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HOME, SWEET HOME. 



HOME, SWEET HOME. 



% foki. 



MRS. RIDDELL, 

AUTHOR OF 

'GEOKGE OEITH," "TOO MICH ALONE," "THE EAKL's PKOMISE, 

ETC. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. III. 




LONDON: 
TINSLEY BROTHERS, 8, CATHERINE STREET, STRAND. 

1873. 

£AU rights of Translation and lirprodnction arc rfserved.'\ 



LONDON : 
SAVIT.L, KDWARDS AND CO., PEINTEKS, CHANDOS STBEKT, 
COVENT GARDEN. 



CONTENTS 



THE THIRD VOLUME. 



CHAP. PAGB 

I. MY DEBUT 1 

II. LIKE A man's hand 31 

III. AFTER LONG YEARS 55 

*IV. MY RELATIONS 98 

V. A LITTLE MUSIC 12.5 

VI. PREVISION 166 

VII. MR. FLORENCE 187 

VIII. AN UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR 215 

IX. AT THE RETREAT 248 

X. OLD ACQUAINTANCES 269 

XL MY OWN SECRET 292 

XII. THE HEIR COMES TO HIS OWN 313 

XIII. CONCLUSION 329 



Home, Sweet Home. 



CHAPTER I. 



MY DEBUT. 



HAT night Gretchen and I sat with 
our two heads bent over one book : 
Dod's " Peerage, Baronetage, and 
Knightage of Great Britain and Ireland." 
The " titled classes " were a new study for 
us ; but Herr Droigel, in his business capa- 
city, had occasionally to post himself up 
as regarded "who was who," and always 
kept a volume by him sacred to the 
nobility, in addition to one containing 
records of the landed gentry. 

For the time being Gretchen's and my 
" who" resolved himself into Sir Thomas 
Brooks ; and from Dod we ehcited the in- 

VOL. III. 1 



HOME, SWEET HOME. 



formation that " Sir Brooks," the fourth 
baronet, had been born some fifty years 
previously ; that he married — " first, 
daughter of Michael Mowbray, Esq., of 
Hopedene, Northumberland (she died 
1829) ; and second. Lady Muriel Margue- 
rite, third daughter of the tenth Earl 
of Fortfergus. Residences : Park Lane, 
London ; Hopedene, Northumberland ; and 
the Retreat, Fairport. Heir presumptive : 
his brother, Henry Algernon, born at 
Richmond." Gretchen read that last sen- 
tence ; I did not. I saw — with my mind's 
eye — only the town twenty miles from 
Lovedale, where the waves lapped in on 
the sands, and the bay lay calm and un- 
ruffled, reflecting back the moonlight. 

Half an hour's walk from my uncle's 
house brought one to the Retreat. I had 
known the place all my life as belonging to 
a vague Sir Thomas, who visited at the 
Great House, and who was a great power 
in the county. 



MY DEBUT. 



" Evidently," said Gretchen, interrupting 
my reverie, "the first wife brought the 
money, and his second wife is helping Sir 
Thomas Brooks, fourth baronet, to spend it." 

The amount of knowledge of the world 
possessed by some persons by no means 
gifted in other respects seems to me 
marvellous now, and it seemed naturally 
more marv^ellous to me then. 

" Do you think I shall have to sing ?" 
I inquired, all m a tremor. 

" No," Gretchen replied, coolly, " I should 
not think so. I imagine you are asked 
solely for the pleasure of your society, and 
because your uncle keeps a chemist's shop 
at Fairport." 

" You talk nonsense," I said sharply. 

" And you talk like a baby," she 
answered. " If you are not wanted to 
sing, why in the world do you suppose 
these people should ask you at all ? In 
fact, I am sure they never did ask you : 
they told somebody to brmg a certain 

1—2 



HOME, SWEET HOME. 



number of musical people, and that some- 
body has doubtless applied to papa for 
assistance. Sing ? — of course you will have 
to sing ; and I for one am glad of it." 

And was I ? Yes, on the whole I thmk 
so. Stronger even than my natural timi- 
dity was the desire to know what I could 
do, what others would say when they heard 
Herr Droigel's pupil ; heard the result of 
weeks, months, years of practice ; and yet 
the whole thing seemed to me unreal. 

That the time was close at hand when I, 
Annie Trenet, should be led on to a platform, 
and curtsey to an applauding audience, and 
sing " my little song," and prove a success 
or a failure, appeared like a dream. 

Still, if I were ever to sing in pubhc, I 
knew it was time I began. I had been on 
Herr Droigel's hands long enough. All he 
could teach me, all I was capable of learn- 
ing, had been taught and learnt ; the days 
were now being spent uselessly. Even if I 
wished to put off the final plunge, I felt 



MV DEBUT. 



it would be neither politic nor just to 
do so. 

It was only to take one step, and then — 
I would be brave and take that one step. 
So I decided before going to sleep. 

But as time went on my courage sank 
below zero. Spite of all the efforts he 
made to conceal it, Herr Droigel could not 
completely hide the anxiety he felt. 

He did not say anything to me on the 
subject nearest his heart, but I could not 
fail to see the importance he attached to 
the impression my first appearance might 
cause. He did not tell me to practise any 
particular song, he never bade me take 
care of catching cold, or warn me to play 
no tricks with my voice, as had been the 
case formerly, but I found his eyes often 
fixed upon me. He failed to find pleasure 
in his favourite dishes ; he talked little, 
and walked up and down the garden and 
through every room in the house a good 
deal, and he interested himself about my 



HOME, SWEET HOME. 



dress to an extent which would at any 
other time have caused Gretchen and my- 
self to shriek with laughter. 

As matters stood, we all, however, felt 
a serious crisis was at hand, and were dis- 
posed to treat even apparent trifles m a 
serious and becoming manner. 

" Though I am not in the least degree 
doubtful of the result," said Gretchen, " it 
is impossible not to feel a little anxious 
about your debut. It means riches or 
poverty for all of us." 

" Is there no medium," I asked, " no 
middle path between the two V 

" I tliink not," she rephed ; "it is not a 
question of power, but of coui'age. You 
can smg, we know ; it only remains to be 
seen whether you will do so before an 
audience." 

" Trust me, Gretchen," I answered. " I 
will try to be brave." 

As a rule, Herr Droigel, so long as our 
demands on his purse were not too frequent 



MY DEBUT. 



or too hea\'y, allowed us to dress as we 
pleased without hindrance or comment. 

If sometunes Gretchen or I, in the 
vanity of our hearts, exhibited to him 
a new bonnet or mantle, or asked if he 
did not think the colour of a dress lovely ; 
he was wont to say : " Ah, my dears, youth 
is beautiful in anything. Everything is be- 
coming to the young." But now all seemed 
changed. 

Over my attune for Sir Brooks' party he 
fidgeted himself and me to an extent which 
was simply incomprehensible. 

He accompanied me to a modiste, with 
whom there had evidently been confidences 
exchanged previously. 

"Is this the young lady T she said, in 
broken Enghsh ; and on being assured that 
I was, she stood back to survey me criti- 
cally, as Worth might now. 

" Mon Dieu, but you had reason," she 
went on, after a pause. " It shall be just 
as you made suggestion. The coifiure " 



HOME, SWEET HOME. 



" Shall be in keeping, rest assured," 
finished Herr Droigel with a satisfied 
smile, and then he left me with Madame, 
who treated me as she might a lay figure 
she had been instructed to dress to the 
best advantage. 

" What colour is it to be ?" I asked inno- 
cently, tliinking there could be no guilt in 
inquiring what I was to wear, but Madame 
flung up her hands and turned up her eyes 
at the question. 

I must wait, I should see. If my good 
guardian had not spoken, were not her lips 
sealed ? His taste was perfect, so was his 
judgment. I should be dressed a ravir. 

So far as I was concerned, I did not see 
much to ravish my eyes when the dress 
did come home. It lay spread out on the 
bed when I ascended the stairs after tea, 
and a young lady sent by Madame the 
modiste mounted guard over it. 

What had I not pictured to myself as 
the dress I should like to wear ! White 



A/V DEBUT. 



looped up with roses, or flowers of the blue 
convolvulus, blue wreathed with clematis ; 
pink trimmed with soft lace. What a 
blessing it is young people are not always 
free agents, and consequently cannot be- 
dizen themselves after the desire of their 
hearts ! 

And the dress I beheld ? you ask. It 
was black, of a filmy, gauzy material ; a 
poor thing, I thought, though it cost a 
great deal of money, and produced a con- 
siderable effect ; with a white tracery run- 
ning through it, with a soft floating effect 
disappointing to me. 

I should have liked a gown stiff" as bro- 
cade, grand as velvet, and there — well, 
there it lay, and I had to make the best 
of it. 

That morning a hairdresser had come to 
curl my hair, and I had, in obedience to 
Herr Droigel, been running about in the 
air all day to uncurl it. 

He wanted it to fall in "heavy lumps," 



10 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

he explained. Those were the days iii 
which women had hau' in plenty of theu* 
own, and mine was exceptionally thick and 
long — so long, that even in curls it fell 
almost to my waist, and we had to put it 
out of the way as best we could while the 
important question of robing proceeded. 

As for the assistant, she was in ecstasies ; 
for me, I was disgusted. I looked in the 
glass and beheld a pale face and dark hair, 
a black dress against a white skin, and 
nothing to relieve or soften either. 

Had I been going to a funeral, I could 
not have assumed a more sombre guise. 

A coral necklace might have brightened 
uj) my appearance, but even that was 
denied me. A double row of jet beads 
was clasped round my throat, and thus 
ornamented the young person pronounced 
me "perfect." 

" Let Monsieur see," she suggested ; and 
Monsieur having seen and been satisfied, 
I was hurried into a brougham duly hired 



MY DEBUT. 11 



for the occasion, and consequently called 
ours ; and we drove off amidst an almost 
unintelligible series of utterances from 
Madame Droigel, and smiles and kissing 
of hands from Gretchen, who farther pros- 
pered our undertaking by throwing an old 
shoe after our vehicle as it emerged from 
the gate. 

The die was cast, the step taken. Dur- 
ing the drive, which seemed to me to 
occupy hours, Herr Droigel talked labori- 
ously — I use the word advisedly — till, 
utterly worn out with the flow of unmean- 
ing sentences and the unwonted move- 
ment of the carriage, I told him I could 
listen no longer — that I was getting such 
a headache I should not be able to sing a 
note. 

" Sing !" he repeated ; " who said any- 
thing about your singing T 

"Ah, Herr Droigel," I replied, "we 
should never — that is, I should never — 
have been asked by Sir Brooks (Gretchen 



12 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

and I had fallen into this form of ex- 
pression) " for the mere pleasure of my 
society." 

" And what knowest thou, Annie, of 
Sir Brooks, or any other Sir, to warrant 
such an assertion ?" 

" I know nothing of him," I replied, 
" but I do know something of his friends ; 
and they — the Wiffordes at all events — 
would as soon think of invitine* their 
coachman to dinner as of askingr me to 
spend an evening with them." 

" Soil, soil ; then the Ladies Wifforde, 
your Great-House heiresses, are acquainted 
with our baronet ; what you call hand-and- 
glove T 

" I cannot say anything about hand-and- 
glove, but they visit at the E,etreat, Sir 
Thomas's place near Fairport, and Su^ 
Thomas — Sir Brooks — visits at the Great 
House." 

*' That is odd — that is what we may call 
one coincidence," remarked my companion. 



AfV DEBUT. 15 



" But it is the lady who asks, not the hus- 
band. She has, oh such heavenly impulses ; 
she loves music and musicians, paintings 
and painters, books and authors." 

" She must have a very large heart," I 
observed. 

" Don't be sathical. Miss. Satire may 
be the cojTect thing at forty, but it is a 
mistake for a gM in her teens. No, as I 
was saying, the Lady Brooks is artistic 
herself, to the tips of her taper fingers. 
She gets up little operas, she has charming 
afternoons, she takes singers, such as Ser- 
lini for instance, to her bosom ; she can act 
herself in short charming pieces with a 
marvellous spirit. Poor Sir Brooks — well, 
he is Su' Brooks ; fat, heavy, English, 
beefish, phlegmatic, good-natured, with an 
adorable rent-roll, a rent-roll calculated to 
make all the world perceive his good quali- 
ties ; but Lady Brooks is the light of the 
household. You shall see her, you shall 
judge for yourself," he added, as our modest 



14 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

conveyance, following in the wake of a dash- 
ing carriage and pair which had just drawn 
off, stopped in front of a brilliantly-lighted 
house, which Herr Droigel informed me in 
an impressive whisper was the abode of Sir 
Brooks. 

At that moment I think I lost my senses, 
and never perfectly recovered them again 
till I awoke, late the next day, in my own 
bed, in my own little room. I remember, 
as m a dream, the red carpet on which I 
stepped, the hall filled with brilliant flowers 
and servants no less gorgeous. I remember 
some one taking my cloak, and some one 
else, in a small back room, asking if I 
would have tea. Two or three people were 
there with whom Herr Droigel shook hands 
and chatted while he stirred his tea and 
sipped it, and swelled out his chest, and 
protruded an immense extent of shu't-frill, 
in which glistened a diamond brooch. 

My master looked magnificent that even- 
uig. Any one might have taken him for 



AfV DEBUT. 15 



the prince or grand-duke of some German 
state a few acres square — he was at once so 
dignified and so condescending — so affable, 
and yet so stately. 

Looking at him, I felt inclined to rub 
my eyes and ask, could tliis be my Droigel 
or another ? Could this be the person- I 
habitually beheld clad in an old dressing- 
gown, with sHppers down at heel, unshorn, 
unkempt, very frequently unwashed ? Was 
this man — so grand in his presence, so 
kingly in his manner, so self-possessed, 
with such an air of society — the Droigel I 
had hitherto seen in the bosom of his 
family, concocting horrible plats, babbling 
with Madame, looking after the peccadilloes 
of successive servants, or shrieking out to 
me that one note was too flat or another 
too sharp, and the general effect of my 
singing enough to set " his teeth on edge ?" 

As for me, no one took the smallest 
notice of my existence, except that, when 
we passed from the small room into a large 



16 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

apartment, at one end of which stood, m a 
sort of alcove, a grand piano, that bade fair 
to be rent to pieces by reason of the blows 
a fashionable pianist was dealing it, a lady 
glided up to Herr Droigel, and, pressing 
his hand, said — 

" How good of you to come ! how can I 
thank you sufficiently ? And so you have 
brought your little gu'L Quite right ; it 
will amuse her." And then, with a very 
fashionable smile, she passed on to give cur- 
rency to some other conventional white 
lie. 

It was Madame with the heavenly im- 
pulses. She was very fair ; I saw that, 
spite of the state of semi-idiotcy to which 
I was reduced. 

She spoke of me as a child ; as if I were 
ten years of age, and had been brought 
there for a treat. Was she mad, or was 1 ? 

On most persons, I sujDpose, the first 
sight of a briUiant party produces an effect 
such as might be induced by a goblet of 



MY DEBUT. 17 



sparkling wine given to one who had never 
previously tasted anything stronger than 
water. 

For myself, I can honestly say, I was 
mentally intoxicated. When I walked, I 
seemed treading on air ; when any one 
spoke and I answered, the voices sounded 
to me unreal ; when I looked at the bril- 
liantly - lighted rooms, at the beautiful 
ladies, at the gentlemen leaning over to 
catch their words, I felt I must be either 
in dream or in fairyland. 

No transformation-scene was ever less 
real to me than the scene which greeted 
my eyes that night : the shifting colours, 
the changing faces, the scent of flowers and 
perfumes, the sound of music, the hum of 
voices. 

Suddenly upon the assemblage there fell 
a hush ; the hum of voices subsided ; there 
was a pause, during which it seemed to me, 
still looking and feehng as in a dream, each 
guest held his or her breath. Up the 

VOL. IIL 2 



18: HOME, SWEET HOME. 

centre of the room a path was cleared, and 
then, led by Sir Brooks — the tips of her 
fingers resting on his arm — a lady moved 
slowly towards our end of the apartment. 

Like a queen she inchned her head to 
those who gave her greeting ; like a queen 
she walked ; like a queen she wore a mask 
between her heart and the crowd who 
looked upon her face. All, Heaven ! how 
more and more dreamlike the scene grew 
when I beheld her — when I saw the sove- 
reign to whom m the years gone by I had 
given my allegiance, Serhni — than whom 
there never was but one, than whom there 
can never be another ! 

She sang. I was not three yards distant. 
I could have caught the train of her sweep- 
ing dress by stretching out a hand. She 
sang. Why should I try to describe that 
wliich is historical ? She stirred the hearts 
of the young by indicatmg the feeluigs to 
come ; by some curious sympathy her tones 
evoked olden memories in the aged, by 



MV DEBUT. 19 



touching strings no hands had strayed over 
for a quarter of a century ; at once she was 
all things to all men. She came simply 
and naturally, like the primroses of spring 
or the lilies of summer, and men and women 
rejoiced ; why, it might have puzzled them 
to explain, as it puzzles me now to record. 

Why do those who have once heard the 
nightingale always remember that song 
with mingled feelings of pleasure and pain ? 
Wherefore do they recollect it to the end 
ofHfe? 

Who shall say ? Who shall explain 
these things — why the trill of a bird, the 
tones of a voice, the rhythm of an aii', 
linger in the memory — why, when the 
singer is dead and gone, that conjuror 
Time, who steals so much of our best and 
brightest from us, relents, and gives back, like 
an echo, note for note of the melody which 
charmed away our senses in the long ago 1 

The song was sung, and she was 
gone — lost among the throng. Herr 

2—2 



20 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Droigel played the accompaniment for 
her. I notice that fact now without 
wonder, though I noticed it then with a 
certam surprise. Yet I need not. His 
touch was so sympathetic, his power of ex- 
pression so perfect — was ! — is, rather ! 
When next I go to town, shall I not pro- 
bably hear Droigel accompany yet another 
prima donna, the favourite of the season ? 
Over Serhni, the favourite of all time, he 
and I bemoan oiu-selves. 

Of that evening I have, as has been said, 
only a vague confused recollection ; nothing 
seems to stand out clear and distinct in my 
memory. I saw as through a mist ; I heard 
as in a fog. Faces mixed themselves up 
before me ; voices and utterances produced 
no clear impression on my mind, I am no 
equestrian ; good society and I formed ac- 
quaintance too late for me to acquire the 
thoughts, habits, or accomplisliments of 
those who are to the manner born ; but 
I have always in my own imagination 



MV DEBUT. 21 



fancied that a man, galloping across 
country as hard as his horse can take 
him, must feel as I felt that night at fSu' 
Brooks' ; where object succeeded to object, 
and sound to sound, and face followed face, 
with the same rapidity as hedge and field, 
and copse and stream and fence, must pass 
before the eyes of a fearless rider. 

I was not fearless. I was apparently 
brave and self-possessed, because I had 
almost lost the power of feeling anything. 
I looked, answered, listened, like one in a 
dream. I heard singing ; I heard long 
fantasias executed ; I saw musical gym- 
nastics performed on a much-endurmg 
piano, by long-haired foreigners with 
supple fingers and lean muscular wrists. 

Young ladies sang, and so did old, for 
the matter of that. There were quartettes 
and trios and duets ; and then a man with 
a dark complexion and black hair, and a 
hooked nose, and very white teeth, and a 
wonderful display of jewelry, said -to me. 



22 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Now, Miss ;" which meant that my turn 
-was come. 

Then for a moment I seemed to awaken 
and shrink ; but the dark man led me to the 
piano, where Herr Droigel sat, and putting 
a roll of music into my hand, left me to my 
fate. 

I heard murmurs of " Who is she ?" 
*' What is she ?" to which a gentleman, 
with a glass stuck in his eye, answered, 
" It is Droigel's baby. Hush !" 

The prelude began, and my future was to 
make or to mar. I thought then, and have 
often thought since, that had the choice been 
given me, I should a thousand times rather 
have preferred singingthat first song before a 
great audience; an audience that would have 
clapped and encouraged me, and given me a 
sufficient fillip to enable the opening notes 
to be uttered with courage and distinct- 
ness. 

As it was, my voice trembled, its tones 
were uncertain ; then Herr Droigel played 



MV DEBUT. 23 



a little louder, and flung upon me a look of 
anguish. Had he seemed angry I must 
have broken down altogether. As it was, 
I remembered all that depended upon my 
success ; how much happiness, how much 
misery — in a word, how much or how little 
money, and strung myself up to the execu- 
tion of my task as a rider might to take 
some tremendous leap. There was no more 
timidity, no more unsteadiness ; I never 
looked at my music or at the company ; 
I kept my eyes fastened on the wall at the 
extreme end of the apartment, and I sang. 
How I sang I knew by the storm of ap- 
plause which followed, by the touch of 
Herr Droigel's great hand softly clapping 
my shoulder, by the tears of thankfulness 
I saw in his eyes. 

" God bless you, Annie !" he whispered, 
" Now you shall sing Mozart for them, and 
nothing more to-night — no, not another 
note." 

Wise was Droigel m all his ways ; he 



24 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

led me off while Sir Brooks' guests were still 
willing to hear me again. To Lady Muriel I 
heard him murmur, " It is her first trial, and 
she is young and shy." And then we were 
in the small room, almost empty now, and 
some one brought wine and wished me to 
take it ; but I put the glass aside and 
asked for water. 

My lips were dry and my throat 
parched, and my cheeks burning ; but I 
was happy, oh, liow happy I felt, no words 
could tell. 

At that moment Madame Serlmi came 
in, leaning on the arm of a gentleman 
whose face I should have recognised had I 
looked at him, instead of being absorbed 
in contemplating her. 

She spoke to my master as she passed 
him, and then addressed me. 

I stood up as she did so. I let my hand 
lie passively in hers while she said in her 
soft foreign accents — 

"I hear you and I are old acquain- 



MV DEBUT. 2& 



tances — that we met ever so long ago at 
Fairport." 

" I have never forgotten you, Madame," 
I managed to say. 

" How strange ! and I have never for- 
gotten the Httle girl whose face was so 
wonderful a study. You did not come to 
hear me again, though." 

" I had to go home," I explained. 

" Wliere my cousin and I once paid you 
a visit," added Madame Serlini's com- 
panion. 

"Oh, Mr. Sylvester!" I cried out 
in my astonishment at meeting him ; 
and then he said Miss Cleeves had been 
talking about me quite lately, that he 
knew I was studying under Herr Droigel, 
and that he congratulated me upon my 
success. 

There was a httle stiffiiess and reserve 
about his manner which seemed only 
natural in the address of any one con- 
nected with the Great House, but it made 



•26 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

me feel nervous and uncomfortable never- 
theless. 

" Is Miss Cleeves " I was beginning 

to inquire, when I saw a swift change pass 
over Madame Serlini's face ; and in the 
same instant I heard the gentleman who 
had spoken of me as a baby say to Herr 
Droigel — 

"So we know now the reason of yoiu- 
sudden affection for the country, and flight 
from town. You wanted to bring the 
violet to perfection, and a remarkably 
sWeet flower it is, domg credit to your 
selection and your culture. You agree 
with me T he asked, addressing Madame 
Serlini. " It will be the young lady's own 
fault if she fail to cHmb to a great height." 

"Miss Trenet has a charming voice," 
she answered, in cold measured tones. 
" Herr Droigel, can I set you down any- 
where ? No ; then will you have the kind- 
ness to take me to my carriage ? Mr. 
Sylvester Birwood, I give our young friend 



A/V DEBUT. ' 27 



into your charge." And so, with a slight 
inclination, she wovild have passed the new- 
comer, but he stepped before her. 

" You will have some supper, will you 
not ?" he asked. 

" I never sup," she replied. 

" But Miss Trenet " 

" Has sung her appetite away, or I am 
much mistaken," was the answer. 

" Lady Muriel commissioned me " 

" I have already made my adieux," said 
Madame Serlini. 

" And our charming hostess, so sympa- 
thetic and full of comprehension, permits 
the absence of Droigel and liis child- 
singer," added the Professor, in an access of 
unsophisticated artlessness. 

With a sneer, a bow, and a slirug, the 
gentleman drew back disappointed. 

" Good-night, Miss Trenet," he said ; 
" you have my heartfelt wishes for your 
success." And then I found myself walk- 
mg beside Mr. Birwood, whose siu-name I 



28 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

had just heard for the first time, with the 
tips of my fingers touching the sleeve of 
his coat, wondering all the while whether, 
if Miss Wiffbrde knew, she would feel very 
angry at the idea of her nephew taking 
even so much charge of me as this im- 
plied. 

I do not think she would have disap- 
proved of the extent of our conversation. 

"Do you remember telhng me you never 
intended makmg any use of your voice T 
he asked, as we crossed the hall. 

"Yes," I answered; "there was a time 
when I made up my mind never to sing 
before any one." 

" But you changed your purpose T 

" More correctly, perhaps, it was changed 
for me," I replied. " I had scarcely a 
choice in the matter." 

" But still I presume you became Herr 
Droigel's pupil of your own free will." 
, " My uncle would never have wished me 
to become a singer against my will." 



MV DEBUT. 29 



" And you think you shall like the 
life ?" 

" Oh, yes ; I am sure I shall — greatly." 

" You sing very, very beautifully," he 
remarked. 

" Thank you," I answered with gratitude. 

" Come, Annie," exclaimed Herr Droigel 
at this point in the conversation ; "do not 
stand in the draught, child. I told our 
driver to wait at the corner of the street 
for us. There is Madame Serlini waving 
her fan to you ;" and he performed a series 
of frantic gesticulations after her car- 
riao'e. 

o 

" Good-bye," I said to Mr. Sylvester. I 
did not know whether to offer him my hand 
or not ; but he settled the question by 
taking it. 

" I shall tell my cousin of your success," 
he remarked; *' she will be dehghted to 
hear of our having met." 

*' Ah, that adorable Miss Cleeves !" cried 
out Herr DroigeL Madame Serlini had 



30 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

evidently given him every information con- 
cerning Mr. Sylvester. " Would you carry 
to her the profound homage of her hum- 
blest admirer T Mr. Birwood, smiling, 
said he would; and so we parted. The 
night of trial was over ; the first step 
taken ; the plunge made ; and on all sides 
I heard but one opinion. 
I had made a success. 




CHAPTEE 11. 




LIKE A MANS HAND. 

UCCESS never seems so real a fact 
as failure, wealth as poverty, plea- 
sure as pain. 

It is hard to say why this should be the 
case ; but the experience of most persona 
will, I apprehend, confirm the truth of my 
observation. 

We chmb by almost imperceptible steps 
to the attainment of our wishes ; but if we 
fall when nearly toiiching the summit of 
success, we have the long, long way we 
travelled upward to descend before we 
even commence our weary explorations of 
the abysses of despam 

There is nothing intangible about dis- 
appointment ; there is notlihig di^eamlike to 



32 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

the man who, having striven, has yet 
gained no prize. But there is something 
indefinite in success. 

Sweets do not Hnger on the palate 
like bitters ; joy lacks the reahsm of 
sorrow. Happy as I felt that night, I 
vaguely understood I was not one half 
so radiant over my success as I should 
iiave been despondent in the event of 
failure. 

I grew weary of Herr Droigel's ecstasies ; 
the complunents he repeated clogged my 
ears. The night and the pure fresh air 
seemed more grateful than the brilliantly- 
lighted rooms, filled with rank and beauty, 
where a hundred perfumes mixed and 
floated through the the au*. Spite of my 
companion's remonstrances, I let do'svn the 
window, and putting out my head, allowed 
the cool breeze to fan my temples. Love- 
dale and its sweet peace came back to my 
memory. I could hear the bees hununmg, 
and smell the beds of thyme ; I was wan- 



LIKE A MAN'S HAND. 33 

deriiig through the pme-woods, I was 
listening to the stream. 

So perhaps to a great statesman, author, 
general, or preacher, there may come in the 
very moment of fulfilment the remem- 
brance of some humble home, of beloved 
schoolfellows, of days, peaceful happy days, 
that can return no more ; of the dead, long 
sleej)ing quietly, who once made earth 
blessed with their presence. 

*' You are overwrought, my Annie," said 
Herr Droigel at length, drawing me gently 
back and pulling up the window. " You 
have eat not, you have drank not. Bah ! 
who ever eats or drinks at Sir Brooks', 
where there is nothing to be had but iced 
water or water ices 1 How splendid was 
the coolness of Serlini ! ' I never sup,' 
she said ; and she is right. It is to a 
banquet she sits down when she returns 
to her own house — a banquet where there 
is everything out of season, and flowers 
which blossom not save at a tropical heat." 

VOL. III. 3 



34 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Who was that gentleman to whom she 
was so barely civil ?" I inquired. 

"He is the Honourable Florence/' an- 
swered Herr Droigel, as usual dropping 
the intermediate Christian name as of no 
account ; "a man about town ; a man who 
has been about town all his life. Proper 
people do not incline to his society. I 
know not myself that there is much harm 
in him. He married a rich old lady, who 
did not die soon enough for his pleasure ; 
but she is dead now, so we will let that 
scandal lie. He is a man wonderfully de- 
voted to music and to everything beau- 
tiful ; a man dangerous to offend, but who 
sometimes proves a useful friend. Ah, 
here we are at the modest home once more. 
Hush, not a word ; I will make-believe you 
have effected a fiasco." And he preceded 
me through the open door which Gretchen 
held wide for our entrance. 

" What is the matter ?" she asked, look- 
ing into her father's face, over which he 



LIKE A MAN'S HAND. 35 

had composed an expression of profound 
dejection ; then, glancing past him at me, 
and seeing the smiles I could not conceal, 
she cried out, " Oh, you darhng ! all has 
gone well, then !" and caught me in a close 
embrace. 

Till that night I never exactly compre- 
hended what my failure would have meant 
to the family of which I had become 
one. 

I had known a great deal of their fature 
happiness or anxiety hung on the issue ; 
but after all, happiness and anxiety are 
mere figures of speech until one be- 
holds them utterly bared of conventional 
clothing. 

Little as I understood of the world, I 
had seen enough to feel sure from the re- 
joicing over my successful debut, that 
failure and beggary would have been 
almost synonymous terms. Herr Droigei 
had staked a great deal on me, and won. 
It is not every day a speculation of this 

3—2 



36 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

sort, or indeed of any sort, turns out well, 
and he was jubilant accordingly. 

Long as I have known the Professor, 
intimate as my acquaintance had been and 
is with him, I have not to this hour an 
idea of the creed to which Herr Droigel 
subscribes ; of the nature of the religion 
he " shrines in his soul ;" of the name or 
names of the god or gods his " natural 
reason worships." 

All I can say is, the creed is as far from 
bemg apostolic as Athanasian ; the religion 
of a kind which must have been revealed 
to himself alone, and his fetish a creation 
entu'ely of his own miagination. 

However, let the idol he had evolved 
out of his metaphysical researches, and 
deduced from long observation of nature 
and mankind, be what it would, he evi- 
dently entertained some feeling of religious 
gratitude for my success. 

He did not seem to care to talk much 
about the " good fortunes of this so dear 



LIKE A MAN'S HAND. 37 

Annie," but left inquiry and comment to 
his wife and daughter. 

"You must not babble to me," he said 
in reply to a torrent of questions that 
poured from Gretchen. " I want to feel 
thankftil and eat my supper without being 
disturbed by words lighter than thistle- 
down. And let that weary child have 
some peace. Is it not enough she has 
vindicated my judgment and made her 
mark, but you must ask her to tell you 
this and tell you that, when her poor head 
is still spinning round like a top T 

" It is your dear old head that is spin- 
ning," Gretchen retorted, patting the head 
so referred to with affectionate approval. 
" You are thiiikmg what lovely present 
you can make Annie ; you are considering, 
' I wonder whether my Gretchen' s heart 
would be glad at the sight of a. shot-silk 
dress, changeable as the colours on a dove's 
breast ;' you are full of benevolent pro- 
jects " 



HOME, SWEET HOME. 



"I am full of projects," he interrupted, 
" which I must see carried out before I can 
be benevolent. We have made the first 
step well, but there is a long road to travel 
before we can touch our goal. Annie's 
notes are good, but we must see about 
cashmg them. Ah, this money, this 
money ! Annie," he broke off, " you look 
white as a ghost. For the love of me, of 
Droigel, taste that wine, m a draught of 
which I drink to you, best and most 
docile of pupils. Too tired to eat ? Then 
you had better get to bed and to sleep. 
No, Gretchen, stay here, and let her alone 
for this night ; she wants rest ; it has 
been too much for the country-bred 
maiden. " 

He was right, it had been almost too 
much for me. Wlien I got upstairs my 
head seemed spimiing as he had said ; 
my limbs felt weary, my hands numb. 

I sat down beside the dressing-table, 
feehng wearied and languid, but oh so 



LIKE A MAN'S HAND. 39' 

thankM, so content. Like a dream, my 
past life lay stretched behind ; like a 
vision of fairyland the future unrolled its 
possibilities to my imagination. 

I could not rest till I had told uncle 
Isaac of the success already achieved ; and 
late though it was, I wrote him a long 
letter, which I was in the act of finishing, 
when through the silence there came a 
crash as if every pane of glass in the con- 
servatory had been broken, a crash followed 
by a second and yet a third. 

Before that came, however, I was on my 
way downstairs. 

" Something dreadful must have hap- 
pened in the garden," I exclaimed; "I 
think the greenhouse has fallen." 

" I think not," Herr Droigel answered 
dehberately. " I believe it is only that 
my salad is now well mixed." 

Saying which he lighted a lantern and 
took a stick, and sallied out in the direction 
of the garden ; Gretchen and I, spite of 



40 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Madame 's remonstrances, following at a 
respectful distance. 

We could hear liis measured footsteps 
crunching over the gravel, and we could 
hear besides somethhig not measured — 
groans and curses combined in inextricable 
confusion. 

"It is Hayles," whispered Gretchen ; 
" take my word, he came to steal the vege- 
tables, and has hurt himself" 

It certainly looked as if he had, when 
Mr. Hayles came into the hall, escorted by 
Herr Droigel. 

His hands and face were much cut, he 
was bleeding from a variety of wounds, 
he was trembliug like an aspen. 

" If you had only told me you were 
coming," said the Professor, politely, " I 
would have had things better prepared 
for you. Can I oifer you warm water and 
strapping-plaster ?" 

" Are you going to send for the police ?" 
asked Mr. Hayles, with desperation. 



LIKE A MAh'S HAND. 41 

" No, my friend, I am not going to send 
for the police. My time is of value — time 
to me is money, as says the proverb of 
your country. You are free to go. Next 
time you want any vegetables, it will afford 
me great pleasure to send them to you, if 
you will only let me know where they are to 
be delivered. Stay, you had better have un 
petit verre. Thank you, Annie," he added, 
for at his words I ran and poured out some 
brandy and gave it to Herr Droigel, who 
in tm-n handed it to the sufferer. " That 
will set you up. Be careful how you go 
out. Good-night." And he held the lan- 
tern high, so as to light the short drive 
and the gate towards which his victim 
limped. 

Arrived there, Mr. Hayles, rendered 
courageous perhaps by the brandy he had 
swallowed, lifted up his voice and uttered 
a Commination Service against the members 
of our household. 

His language was of that description 



42 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Londoners are privileged to hear any day, 
at any hour, in almost any part of the 
metropolis. He held forth not without 
some needless repetitions in the vernacular 
of his class, and as he banged the gate, 
fired his parting shot into our camp. 

"It was a d — d trick," he shouted; 
" and nobody but an infernal foreigner 
would have thought of baiting such a 
trap." 

It was impossible to admire either Mr. 
Hayles' morals or his manner of expressing 
his feelings ; but I could not altogether 
dissent from his opinions. 

To invert an old adage, however, one 
man's poison is another's meat ; and Herr 
Droigel thought he had done an exceed- 
ingly clever thmg in circumventing his 
enemy. 

When it came to a pitched battle be- 
tween me and the Professor, he did not 
come off with colours flyuig so triumphantly. 
We signed a truce, which we shall never 



LIKE A MAN'S HAND. 4$ 



break now, I imagine, unless the pious 
William and Prince Bismarck decide to 
invade England, in which case Droigel 
mio-ht bethink himself of a house contain- 
ing a few articles worth looting — of a 
singer who, if compelled to reappear, 
might, by the magic of old associations 
and former prestige, be valuable to an 
agent once again. If he reads this sen- 
tence, we shall laugh together over it, and 
love each other none the less and none the 
more. 

The day after my first success, he and I 
were friends " to perfection," Of all people 
m the world, who should drive out to our 
country retreat but Madame Serlini ! 

How good she was, how kind ! She 
came accompanied by a gentleman, who 
had, I subsequently learnt, much to do 
with the giving of concerts and the engag- 
ing of singers. He wanted me — me, Annie, 
to sing for him twelve times. 

But already there was, to use an Irish 



44 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

expression, "money bid for me." With 
sighs and groans Herr Droigel lamented 
his fate. Goldstein, he of the Hebrew cast 
of features, and the jewelry which hung 
about his person like golden manacles, had 
spoken concerning me, and though his 
offer was " low, much too low, still it was 
he who had arranged the invitation to Sir 
Brooks' ; and besides, Droigel was under 
obhgations to him ; and no one could say, 
or should say, Droigel was ungrateful, or 
higgle-haggled like a huckster. No paper, 
it was true, had been signed ; but then 
Droigel's word was as good as his bond." 

" There needs no writings with me," 
he went on ; " what I say, I do. Man 
or woman I defy to bring agamst me that 
most terrible of charges, ' he promises, and 
fulfils not.' " 

" I wish every one could conscientiously 
make the same statement," remarked 
Madame Serlini's companion, pohtely. 
Evidently he had called merely to obhge 



LIKE A MAN'S HAND. 45. 

her. Even to me it was clear he did not 
beheve to any extent in the talents of 
Herr Droigel's rara avis. 

"It is bad, bad," proceeded my master, 
" for people to undertake that they have 
no intention of fulfilling. A man makes- 
an appointment ; in his positive English he 
says, ' I will be at such and such a place 
at two sharp.' I am there five minutes 
before the time, so as to be more than 
punctual. At half an hour past two he is- 
not there ; behold, thirty-five precious 
minutes lost out of my life — dead lost," 
repeated the Professor, mournfiilly. " Or 
one of the big music houses ; the chief 
thereof remarks to me, ' Droigel, I will 
make up yoiu' account, and send your 
cheque for the half-year.' He makes not 
up the account ; he sends no cheque, and 
I have to go twice, thrice, four times, be- 
fore I can get even part of my money ; and 
all those weeks there wait for their accounts 
the British tradesmen whom my soul 



46 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

a,bhors, to whom I give no promises now, 
but that which their soul loves not, cash ; 
since across the counter is the antidote for 
cheating." 

During the time devoted by Herr Droigel 
to an enumeration of his virtues and a 
declamation against the vices of others, 
Madame Serlini had been carelessly turn- 
ing over the leaves of a book which lay on 
the table, and looking occasionally first at 
him and then at Gretchen. Suddenly she 
said — 

" Your daughter is older than Miss 
Trenet ; is it not so T 

" Ach, but yes," replied Herr Droigel, 

" only a few months, however. Gretchen 

■>■) 

IS 

" Do not tell me, let me guess," inter- 
rupted our visitor. " Your daughter has 
lived twenty years." 

*' And I also," I stated. 

" Perhaps," she said, with a certain sig- 
nificance ; then added, " Droigel, why did 



LIKE A MAN'S HAND. 47 

you dress your pupil last night to look 
like a 'baby/ as Mr. Florence called 
her T 

" Because I thought that goodly com- 
pany might be lenient in proportion as 
they supposed her to be young," answered 
Herr Droigel, glibly. " Besides, Annie is 
years more juvenile than her age. We 
will put her voice aside — what is her ap- 
pearance ?" 

" That of a girl in her first teens," said 
Madame. " Perhaps you were right ; the 
younger probably you keep her for the 
present the better. If ever I can be of 
any service to you," she added, rising and 
holding out her hand, " command me. I 
shall follow your career with the keenest 
interest. Good-bye, Droigel ; if any one 
can make her triumphantly successful, you 
are the person." 

And so the interview ended, and our 
visitors were gone. 

"Mein. Gott, but that woman is rest- 



48 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

less 1" exclaimed the Professor. " She 
reposes never ; she has the energy of ten 
thousand. Had I given you up to her 
friend, you would have been worked to 
death. You must have sung here to-day, 
and two hundred miles off to-morrow ; and 
you would have had to put the work of 
seven years mto one, and appeared, ill or 
well, tired or not tired. Ah, Madame, you 
are good, clever, amiable, generous to a 
fault ; but you understand not the nature 
of such an Enghsh maiden as my Annie I 
Her heart beats quietly, while yours, ach, 
Himmel ! throbs like a steam-engine at 
high pressure." 

With which definition of our different 
constitutions, Herr Droigel left me to study 
a new song he had composed, " addressed 
especially," so he stated, " to touch the 
feelings and open the purse-strings of the 
British mother." 

The words were simply idiotic, and the 
song as contemptible a composition as it 



LIKE A MAN'S HAND. 49 

was possible for the Professor, with his 
consummate knowledge of music, to pro- 
duce ; but I can say from my own expe- 
rience both answered the purpose he 
intended. 

I never sang "The Mother's Farewell" 
in public without receiving a rapturous 
encore. " It brought down the parents, 
to quote Herr Droigel, who was wont to 
watch with a grim enjoyment the produc- 
tion of pocket-handkerchiefs by ladies, and 
the emotion evinced by heads of families 
generally. All this meant, I understood at 
a later period of my Hfe, so many copies of 
the song purchased next day. I at first 
signed them by the five hundred, but 
eventually Herr Droigel had a stamp cut, 
and saved me that trouble. 

All this happened in the early part of 
my career, while I was still innocent of the 
ways of the world, as Eve before she ate of 
the apple. 

It was a happy life I led then. I had to 

VOL. in. 4 



Sa HOME, SWEET HOME. 

work hard and sing so often that I some- 
times wondered whether Madame Serhni's 
energy could have exceeded that of Herr 
Droigel ; but I liked the applause I gained, 
and was more than willmg to study closely 
in order to win it. Farther, every wish 
was gratified, every whim indulged, all 
save one. 

For some reason it was so managed that 
I never saw any one alone, never was 
permitted to go anywhere alone. Had I 
been less busy, I might have chafed more 
at this than was the case. As it happened, 
I did murmur occasionally at never being 
permitted to speak a word in private to 
Miss Cleeves, who came often to our house, 
sometimes accompanied by the Dacres, 
sometimes with Mr, Sylvester, sometimes 
by herself 

Wlien I remonstrated, however, with 
Herr Droigel, he said — 

" I have ,a sacred charge over you ; I 
am to you mother, father, uncle, guardian. 



LIKE A MAN'S HAND. 51 

friend — all in one. If harm came, how 
should I answer for it ? Be tranquil, my 
child ; the day must arrive when you will 
thank Droigel for regarding each man and 
each woman as a wolf in sheep's clothing. 
The way of a young girl who sings in 
public, is not easy to keep strewn with 
roses. I would guard the heartache from 
you. Trust that what I am doing is best 
for all of us." 

" Guess where I intend going next week," 
said Miss Cleeves one morning when I 
chanced to be alone in the drawing-room of 
our old house in London, to which we had 
again removed. "You could never guess, 
so I will tell you. To Lovedale, to the old 
darhngs. How I wish you could go with 
me ; but of course, even if Herr Droigel 
permitted, the ' ladies' ' hau' would stand 
straight up on end at the very idea. 

" I will read you what they say. Good 
Herr Professor, you are just in time to hear 
the wise utterances of my kindred con- 

4—2 



62 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

cerning your pupil," she added, as my 
master, attired in dressing-gown and slip- 
pers, entered the apartment, apologizing for 
his deshabille. " Know all people, that this 
letter is from Laura, coheiress with her 
sister of the late Sylvester Wifforde Esquire ; 
and this is what she says : ' As to your 
remark concerning our ever having " de- 
spised" the young person to whom you 
refer, we are too much accustomed to your 
inaccurate modes of expression to attach 
any importance to the observation. We 
always considered Mrs. Motfield and her 
granddaughter highly respectable and well 
conducted ; and while it must ever be a 
matter of regret to hear of any female de- 
voting herself to a career so full of peril as that 
of a public singer, and though we bitterly 
lament you can so far forego your own dignity 
as to associate with one in all respects, save 
that of modesty, your inferior, we are glad 
to hear she is able to earn a liveHhood for 
herself; and we trust she may be preserved 



LIKE A MAN'S HAND. 53 

from temptation, and saved fr-om bringing 
disgrace upon a family which, if humble, 
has always preserved its integrity.' Now, 
how am I to spend a month with such anti- 
quated dowagers ?" inquired Miss Cleeves, 
folding up the letter, and never pausing to 
inquire how her unnecessary frankness 
might have affected my feeUngs. " Nothing 
but the sternest sense of duty could induce 
me to revisit those scenes of my childhood." 

" Are you likely to be at Fairport ?" 
asked Herr Droigel. 

" Not at all," answered Miss Cleeves, 
looking him straight in the face. " If I 
should, however, happen to visit that 
charming seaport, can I convey any mes- 
sage from you to the dear uncle Isaac of 
our friend Annie ?" 

" I hope we shall have the pleasure of 
seeing him in London soon," Herr Droigel 
repHed. " Naturally he wishes to embrace 
his niece, from whom he has been parted 
so long." 



54 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" This is news to you, I see Annie," ob- 
served Miss Cleeves, 

And indeed it was. I felt so bewildered, 
I could make no answer. 




CHAPTEE III. 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 



OT all my questioning could elicit 
from'Herr Droigel any information 
as to the period of my uncle's ar- 
rival ; wliich was not singular, considering 
that when he expressed his hope of seeing 
him soon in London, he had not written or 
despatched the letter of invitation. 

Ere long however an answer arrived. It 
was inconvenient for him to leave home, so 
the writer stated. At the same time he could 
not resist the temptation held out. He 
would not, however, avail himself of Herr 
Droigel's proffered hospitality. Mrs. Mot- 
field had never visited London, and he 
would take the opportunity of showing her 
and a couple of his young people the sights. 



56 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

If Herr Droigel could look them out lodg- 
ings, he should take it as a favour. 

At first Herr Droigel pooh-poohed this 
idea. Rather than that the uncle of his- 
dear Annie, and the aunt and the beloved 
cousins, sought shelter in a strange house, 
he, Madame, and Gretchen should repose 
on the floor. 

" But, bah !" he proceeded, " are there 
not rooms enough and to spare ? If 
Annie will occupy the same chamber with 
Gretchen, and a bedstead be erected in the 
back drawing-room, could not success be 
achieved ? Speak, best of wives !" 

Thus adjured, Madame spoke. 

All could be as he made suggestion. It 
would be bad for every one, if the house 
were deserted by Annie's friends. 

At this juncture I interposed. 

" Excepting uncle Isaac, they are na 
friends of mine, Madame. It is very kind 
of you and Herr Droigel to wish to have 
them here, but I hope you will let them ga 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 



into lodgings. So far as I am concerned, I 
have no desire for the same roof to cover 
me and Mrs. Isaac Motfield." 

" But she is an aunt of thine," suggested 
Madame, in. a tone of reproach. 

" That is not my fault, though it may be 
my misfortune," I replied. " We have 
never been on gfood terms — we never shall 
be. If she comes here, we shall quaiTel 
the whole time ; for, if her children have 
grown up as they seemed to promise, they 
must be miracles of ill-breeding." 

" Didst thou ever hear, Droigel, such 
words as these T began Madame, whom I 
had roused on her weak point. A large circle 
of relatives was her idea of perfect happi- 
ness. In her own family there were 
perpetually recurring birth or marriage 
days ; and on New-year's eve we were 
wont either to receive or visit various 
utterly uninteresting people, who called 
each other du, and embraced and conversed 
in a patois of bad German and worse 



58 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

English, and sang songs concerning the 
Vaterland, and decorated their apartments 
with flowers and small pots of moss and 
sprigs of evergreen, and who, it is to be 
hoped, enjoyed the festivities vastly. 

To me the whole thing had become 
almost unendurable. They were not un- 
kind people — no doubt they were admirable 
•and estimable in their way — but the utter 
want of variety in their remarks and modes 
of entertaining themselves made me dread 
-a natal or a wedding day with a sinking of 
heart impossible to describe. 

Herr Droigel retained sufiicient " of the 
sentiment of his romantic land" to express 
the most profound regret when circum- 
stances compelled his absence ; but I 
shrewdly suspected he had lived long 
enough amongst literary and artistic people 
to see the absurdity and feel the monotony 
of these family gatherings. 

Wlien he did attend one of them, he 
bore his part bravely, ate and drank, and 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 59 

played accompaniments and danced — yes, 
danced. I myself have trod a measure 
with him, and the performance was wit- 
nessed, not merely with gravity, but 
approval by the spectators. 

To Madame, however, visiting her 
relatives constituted the dissipation of her 
life. For no consideration would she have 
forgotten an anniversary of birth, death, 
marriage, or betrothal. A new sister-in- 
law, nephew, niece, cousin, aroused all her 
susceptibilities ; and the idea of any person 
having a relation whom he or she regarded 
with positive dishke, was something too 
terrible to realize. 

Hitherto I had prudently kept my senti- 
ments well in the background, and the sud- 
demiess and frankness of my speech filled 
her with a terrible astonishment. 

"It is wicked," she went on. "I never 
thought so gentle an one as thou could 
talk in that bad, sinful way.'' 

"I cannot help it, Madame. If it is bad 



60 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

and sinful to speak the truth, then indeed 
I am wicked as you say, I disHke Mrs. 
Isaac Motfield intensely. I am very sorry 
my uncle ever married her. Perhaps she 
has made him a good wife — I know nothing- 
about that — but she made me a very bad 
aunt, and her coming to London will spoil all 
the pleasure I expected from my uncle's 
visit." 

" What dost thou think of this T asked 
Madame, turning to her husband once again. 

" I think with you, my treasure, it is 
very terrible to have a niece utter such 
decidedly antagonistic observations con- 
cerning her admirable aunt ; but " 

" My aunt was not admirable to me," I 
interrupted ; " and I see no reason why I 
should not prevent her staymg here, if my 
opinion can effect so desirable an object. 
She is less disagreeable and more honest 
than Mrs. Daniel Motfield ; but that is not 
saying very much in her favour." 

" Had you permitted the finishing of my 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 61 

sentence," remarked Herr Droigel, " you 
would have found it not necessary to enlarge 
upon this unpleasant subject. My melody 
was not complete. You cut the air in two. 
I was about to modulate into another key, 
and proceed thus : — But the English 
nature is different from the German ; it 
has fewer tendrils ; it winds itself not 
readily, though, when it does, the strength 
of its affection is great. Farther, the artiste 
temperament is irritable and sensitive ; it 
has its little notches — its difficulties. Evi- 
dent is it that the spirits of our Annie 
and the wife of that good uncle Isaac are 
not en rapport We will not have the hair 
of our kitten rubbed the wrong way. Sen- 
sible Mr. Motfield's commands shall be 
obeyed to the letter. Those to whom I 
should have been proud and happy to offer 
my poor hospitahties shall lodge themselves 
elsewhere." 

" You will not repent your decision," I 
said, " when you see my amiable rela- 



62 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

tives — and hear them, too, for that matter. 
My cousins play and sing." 

" Not as Annie plays and sings," he 
suggested. 

"In their own opinion a vast deal better, 
I have not the slightest doubt," was my 
reply. " However, it is years since we 
met, and they may have developed genius 
and amiability in the interim." 

" And in any event, when they come, 
you will remember " 

"That if my manners are not pretty, the 
sin may be laid at your door," I finished, as 
he hesitated how to word his request. " Be 
tranquil. I will put on my best bib-and- 
tucker and my best behaviour at the same 
time, and not sing a note if I have even to 
catch a bad cold to avoid doing so." 

" Perverse one !" exclaimed the Professor, 
with a pensive smile. " Is she not a spoiled 
child, this Annie of ours V he added, ad- 
dressing Madame. 

To his infinite astonishment Madame 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 63 

said I was, and said it very much as if she 
meant it. She could not forgive the blow 
I had struck at the very roots of family 
affection, and went sailing out of the room 
with so comical an air of displeasiu'e and 
contempt, that her husband involuntarily 
raised his eyebrows and liis shoulders, and, 
turning to me, uttered the word " Soli !" 
three times, with a crescendo of such ex- 
ceeding amazement, that I defy any human 
being with the smallest sense of the ludi- 
crous to have kept from laughing. 

Madame heard the laugh, and imputed 
it to me as sm. Great trees grow from 
small seeds. Herr Droigel did not know 
the nature of the event he had, by his 
astonishment, planted that day to mature 
for our mutual benefit. 

One day I had a letter from my uncle, 
in which 'he explained the mystery of his 
commg to London accompanied by so many 
of his household gods. Jemima Jane, to 
whom reference was made in the early part 



64 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

of this story as the wearer of my clothes, 
the appropriatress of my trinkets, had, like 
me, achieved success, only in a different 
direction. Her charms had fascinated the 
son of the woollen-draper ; and although, 
by reason of his large family, my uncle 
could not give his daughter so large a dot 
as had been mentally settled by paternal 
affection as the value of the youth, still, in 
consideration of Mr. Motfield's respecta- 
bihty, he gave way, and blessed the young 
lady. 

When Herr Droigel's letter arrived, in- 
viting my uncle to visit him, in order to 
see me and " discuss foture events," Mrs. 
Motfield seized the idea and enlarged upon 
it — why not give her an outing too ? — and 
Jemima Jane as well. The trousseau could 
be provided so much better, so much 
cheaper, in London, and then they should 
see the sights. 

Farther, they should see me, concerning 
whom they had conflicting notions, gathered 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 65 

from memory and the newspapers — the 
£rst suggestmg a disagreeable, insignificant 
chit of a child — the last filling them with 
wonder at the idea of a relation of theirs 
being styled a promismg debutante, and 
getting into print at all. On the sole 
occasion when I met my relations after 
leaving Lovedale, Mrs. Isaac Motfield, hav- 
ing, a^ may be remembered, another en- 
gagement, did not accompany her husband 
to Alford. 

There was nothing accordingly to bridge 
over the chasm of time that had passed 
since Mrs. Isaac declared " such goings on 
^s mine she would not have in her house ;" 
and it was only natural she and her 
daughters should desire to see with their 
own eyes the sort of animal Annie Trenet 
might be, who sang in public and could 
^ord to make her uncle a present of a 
gold watch and chain. 

That watch and chain produced a great 
■effect in Fairport. 

VOL. III. 5 



66 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Uncle Isaac declared laughingly, that it 
turned the scale in Jemima Jane's behalf; 
and Herr Droigel said — 

" Ah ! how many a true word is uttered 
in jest ! What a world this is, where 
every one is mercenary ! every one sooner 
or later — I am mercenary !" 

" You wont make me believe that readily," 
my uncle answered, with frank heartiness. 

For pleasure, business cannot stand still ; 
and though that Fahport letter kept me 
in an agony of expectation, I went on with 
my work just as though no kind tried friend 
were coming to visit London. 

We were close on the end of the season, 
which was not prolonged so late into the 
summer as is the case now ; and, as is usual 
at the end of all seasons which have been 
exceptionally gay and briUiant, the pulse of 
society seemed to be beating faster than 
ever. Balls and parties of all sorts followed 
each other in rapid succession, whilst in the 
musical world an activity prevailed which 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 67 

was marvellous — concert succeeding to con- 
cert, each largely and fashionably attended. 

Had Herr Droigel been gifted with fore- 
knowledge, he could not have chosen a better 
year for " bringing me out." 

A twelvemonth before, I was but a scholar 
trembling at Herr Droigel's frown — wonder- 
ing whether I should ever be able to sing 
so that any one might care to hear me ; and 
now I had to appear once, sometimes twice, 
a day before an ever-changing pubhc, and 
it was arranged we — the Professor and my- 
self — were, when the London season was 
over, to join a party intending to make a 
provincial tour. 

Everything was new to me — almost 
everything pleasant. I had not yet attained 
sufficient distinction to provoke jealousy, 
and Herr Droigel was judicious in two mat- 
ters ; he always spoke humbly — almost de- 
preciatingly — of my voice, and sedulously 
abstained from forcing me on the attention 
of older singers. 

5—2 



68 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

If any one who had not noticed me be- 
fore said, " Wlio is she ? — is that the new 
voice?" he would answer, '' It is only my 
little girl," or, " My adopted child," until I 
came to be familiarly known by no other 
appellations than these — unless, indeed, 
that of " Droigel's baby." 

This used to vex me mightily at the time, 
though I was wise enough to hide my an- 
noyance ; but, looking back, it seems to me 
that much of the kindly toleration and 
friendly assistance I experienced in those 
days were attributable to my sobriquet, 
rather than to any inherent virtue possessed 
by myself. 

I was as one walking unharmed because 
imarmed amongst them aU. I could sing, 
of course, and did sing ; but still they only 
thought of me as a child — a baby — of my 
fat, plausible, self-constituted parent. 

He appeared the butt of the artistes' 
room ; the moment he entered seemed the 
signal for jest and merriment. 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 69 

" I am so glad you have come," was the 
way in which one singer would greet him ; 
*' you are an awful humbug ; but I could 
better spare a better man." 

" Oh, here is the dear papa Droigel !" 
another would cry, and straightway kiss 
him ; and then around would arise a Babel 
of languages, each man and each woman 
appealing to the new-comer in his or her 
own especial tongue. 

Amongst them, he looked Hke Gulliver 
amongst the Liliputians. He listened to 
the jabber around with a benign smile, 
though sometimes, when hard pressed, he 
would say, with a sigh, " Ah, my dears, you 
are too hard upon the old father who has 
indulged you all these years." 

" And who acknowledges a most degene- 
rate family of children," remarked a lady 
whose EngHsh was so good that it puzzled 
me when Herr Droigel said she was a Hun- 
garian, and spoke six languages with equal 
correctness. 



70 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" She is simply the cleverest woman I 
ever knew," he said. " Gott in Him m el ! 
she has the energy of a dozen men. No 
marvel her husband died within three 
months of his marriage. She would do any 
man to death unless he had ten lives. I 
can remember her thirty years, and during 
the whole of that time she has never been 
sick, or hoarse, or tired, or laid up with the 
vapours or — her temper, though one would 
have thought that a malady in itself" 

" Thirty years !" I exclaimed. " Wliy, 
she is quite young now !" 

" She must be fifty-five now, at the very 
smallest computation ; and as you remem- 
ber, Annie dear, a Scotch lady remarked 
that at fifty people do begin to lose the 
bloom of youth. She has managed to pre- 
serve hers, however, as admirably as she 
manages to do everything else." 

" But you must be mistaken," I persisted; 
" why, look at her hair !" 

" I have," he answered, " often." 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 71 

" It is black as jet," I continued. 

"True." 

" And yet you say she is fifty-five ?" 

" I know her age — concerning that of her 
■wig, I have no information !" 

" Do you mean to tell me she wears a 
wig T I cried. 

"Yes, but not a common wig. Like 
everythmg else she makes her own, it is 
unique. Her art is so perfect that it seems 
more natural than nature. She is wonder- 
ful, magnificent, superb." 

And Herr Droigel rolled out these words 
in a tone of simple faith, holding up his 
hands the while, as if imploring Heaven to 
bear witness to his sincerity in uttering 
them. 

" Who was the lady," I went on to in- 
quire, " that was singing when we got there, 
and who afterwards, when every one else 
was laughing and talking, sat apart looking 
over her music % You bowed to her." 

" That lady — it pleases me to think you 



72 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

noticed her thus specially — that lady is a 
saint. She sings in public, and is sup- 
posed to pray in private. She has solved 
the EngHsh puzzle of using her talents pro- 
fessionally, and being received almost on an 
equality in good society. In her way, she is 
cleverer than our old-young Hungarian. She 
has found out practically " how to make the 
best of both worlds," as illustrious Mr. Bin- 
ney states theoretically is possible. She has 
the ear of Exeter Hall. The clergy con- 
sider her faultless — original sin, which is no 
fault of hers, alone excepted. She has the 
American aptitude for making money, and 
the British talent of keeping it when made. 
She does not mix much with other artists. 
She is in the singing world, but not of it. 
No Sunday visiting for her. She receives 
not on that day, unless it may be a Dean 
or a Bishop, or some great lady. She goes 
to her church in the morning, and then oc- 
cupies herself in signing copies all the after- 
noon. An admirable creature — ' a crown 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 73 

to her husband,' as the Wise Man says. 
Her royalties alone must be a pretty penny. 
We love not each other. She will sing not 
my songs. I — well, I — do not help her to 
pupils when a father or mother conde- 
scends to ask my advice. Her real name 
was Stubbs ; her father a carpenter at 
Peterborough. One of the clergy-in-wait- 
ing at the cathedral — canon is the word, is 
it nof? — heard her voice, and got the 
organist to instruct it. She has lived under 
the wings of the Church ever since. With 
the approval of her patrons, she dropped 
the Stubbs, and came out as Miss Adela 
Hawtrey." 

In describing this part of my life, I am 
vague and inconsequent of necessity, be- 
cause it was some tune before the places 
at which I appeared and the people I met 
formed themselves into sharp outhne before 
me. It was all so new that I felt like 
one who, having lived far from towns, 
is suddenly set down in the midst of a 



74 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

crowded city. Everything seemed confused 
and unreal. Unaccustomed as I was to 
society and excitement, I walked through 
the first portion of my new existence like 
one in a dream. 

If I had ever imagmed that when my 
public career began drudgery would be 
over, I should soon have been disabused of 
this impression. 

Not merely had I to work as hard as ever 
myself, but every one with whom I came in 
contact worked hard also. Singing, such as 
should please the multitude, was not, I 
found, intuitive. Nothing appalled me so 
much as the ceaseless study I beheld around 
me. Did we go to the house of an artiste, 
she was either learning herself or instructing 
somebody else. Over rehearsals we slaved 
— I can use no other expression ; whilst we 
waited our turn to appear on the platform, 
we were poring over our music, humming 
difficult passages, perfecting our pronuncia- 
tion. 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 75 

Sunday, which might have been reserved 
for rest, was the favourite and appointed 
time for hearing new songs, for trying over 
part-music, for making acquaintances, for 
receiving visits, that all more or less par- 
took of a business character. As little,' 
perhaps, as Miss Hawtrey — who, by the 
way, was married, and the mother of four 
children — did I like this mode of keeping 
the day holy ; but what could I do ? I 
was in a vortex which left no time for 
expostulation or for thought. I had sailed 
hitherto through quiet seas ; and m a 
moment, so it seemed to me, I was whirHng 
round and roimd in a perfect maelstrom of 
excitement. What mission had I to set 
the world right? What power had I to 
keep myself right ? I, who was surrounded 
on all hands by people holding either a 
different faith or no faith at all ? 

Two or three times it is true I ventured 
to hint to Herr Droigel that our manner of 
spending the first day in the week did 



76 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

not quite satisfy me ; but lie put aside my 
objection with — 

" My dear Annie, retain those senti- 
ments ; they are holy, they belong to the 
best part of our humanity. Unfortunately 
we cannot always act up to our sentiments. 
Ah, what a world this would be were that 
possible ! A certain number of people 
have to work on Sundays — clergymen, 
organists, choristers, policemen, engine- 
drivers, and singers. It is lamentable it 
should be necessary ; but the fact remains. 
Happily it is not all the year round : once 
the season is over, we can be quiet and 
religious as we like." 

It would have been a great change for 
Herr Droigel, had he liked to be the latter. 
Spite of his words in Alford churchyard, I 
had long been aware of that fact ; but 
there was no use in seeming to take him at 
other than his own estimate. 

I was in the stream now, and had to go 
with the current. Our Sundays were a 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 77 

part and parcel of the unreality of my life. 
Often I wondered, when listening to a 
Babel of tongues, or to a bit of practice 
from an opera, whether it was myself who 
stood in the midst of that throng or an- 
other — the Annie Trenet of days that 
seemed hundreds of years distant, or a 
changeling who, having surreptitiously en- 
tered that little cottage overlooking the 
Love, had performed freaks of which no 
true Motfield would have been guilty — 
freaks ending in tliis. 

And what struck me with the greatest 
wonder was, that whilst I had an unceasing 
sense of wrong-doing oppressing me, no one 
else had. In my Pharisaism, if it were 
necessary to do the thing at all, I would 
have done it in secret. Like the lady who 
told her little boy to play his marbles in 
the back yard — which order ehcited the 
inquiry whether it were not Sunday there — 
I should scarcely have elected to make our 
performances pubhc. But no one appeared 



78 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

to dream there was anything to be ashamed 
of in the matter. 

It was business, as Herr Droigel said ; 
and if there were work to be done, there 
was no reason why the windows should be 
closed and the doors barred whilst the work 
was in progress. 

What the neighbours thought of it 
troubled me at first ; but I soon understood 
that on much lower grounds than rehgious 
scruples no one who was strait-laced would 
rent a house next door to a professional 
musician. 

After all, who would Hke to hear Beet- 
hoven's sonatas for eight hours a day % and 
pianoforte practice is soothing as laudanum 
compared to vocal. 

Sometimes my senses seemed leaving me 
amid the musical confusion in wliich we 
lived. 

" You do not appear to hke this much," 
said Herr Droigel to me, as one lovely 
night we walked home together ; " and yet 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 79 

I have a memory of hearing consistent 
Annie once remark that she was so fond of 
music, she could listen to it for ever." 

" I spoke without knowledge then," I 
answered. " One may hke good living, and 
yet still not care to be eating perpetually. 
It seems to me we are like cooks in a kit- 
chen — seeing, smelling, tasting perpetually. 
I thought this evening what a blessing 
dea&ess would prove." 

"Ah, you mean when that new tenor 
was making such a diabolic noise." 

" Then, and — and all the time. If the 
public lived, moved, and had their being to 
the sound of music as we have, they would 
never go to a concert, and the opera-houses 
might be closed." 

" And yet," he replied, " I dare affirm you 
were the only ennuyed individual present. 
Music is the business of artistes. Some 
day you will take an interest as keen in 
business as they do." 

" Perhaps," I said. 



so HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" For certain," lie answered ; " and it 
will not be long before tbat time arrives. 
You will have to work hard to catch up to 
the singers more old, more experienced, 
than you ; and when you are older and 
have learned much, you will have to go on 
learning to prevent the young singers 
catching up and passing you." 

To this I made no reply. The view pre- 
sented of my employments through life did 
not seem particularly captivating. 

It was whilst incidents and persons were 
flitting past me in the misty uncertain 
manner I have tried to describe, that my 
uncle Isaac arrived in London. 

He came unexpectedly, to me at least, 
and our meeting was in tliis wise. 

A hot close day had been succeeded by 
a still more sultry evening. Every window 
in our house was set wide open to catch 
any stray breath of air which might be 
wandering about ; but none chanced to be 
abroad. It was an evening when to live 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 81 

seemed difficult, and to sing impossible ; 
and yet I stood before the glass taking a 
farewell glance at myself before appearing 
before that public which would, I believe, 
go to a ball or a theatre if the thermometer 
stood at two hundred in the shade. 

That friend of Herr Droigel, to whom, 
at an earlier period of my London ex- 
perience, I had sung ere starting for the 
Continent, was giving his concert of the 
season, and we were to assist in making 
it go off well. 

He was not a pubHc singer himself, 
but a celebrated teacher. He was petted 
by the aristocracy. It was "the thing" to 
take lessons from him at a fabulous price 
per ten minutes. Young ladies, whose 
performances might have made any one 
with an ear for music gnash his teeth, 
passed muster — were indeed made much 
of in stately coiuitry houses — because they 
had been pupils of Signer Dellaro. 

Had any one mentioned their names in 

VOL. III. 6 



82 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

that connexion to Signor Dellaro, he would 
have said with a languid drawl — 

" I have heard them sing." 

Rare indeed were the instances when 
Dellaro roused himself to teach, which 
most probably was the reason of his popu- 
larity : one of the reasons, to speak more 
correctly, since his indolence, insolence, 
extortionate charges, no doubt exercised 
the charm of novelty on those accustomed 
to consider teachers of any kind mere 
cattle to be driven. 

Be this as it may, however, Dellaro 's 
career had been a triumph — such a 
trimnph, in fact, that he could afford to 
be generous, and when off guard, occa- 
sionally jovial. 

In the early part of his career Droigel 
had stood his friend, and Dellaro was not 
ungrateful. The consequence of all this 
being, so far as his acts concerned me, that, 
spite of his being very particular as to the 
artistes who appeared at his concerts, he 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 83 

was graciously pleased to observe that if 
Droigel's baby would sing one of his, 
Dellaro's, songs, he should be gratified. 
Not more gratified than Droigel, however 
— for that I can answer. 

" The crime de la crcme would praise his 
Annie," he declared ; " the lean dowagers^ 
the well-developed mammas, the daughters 
so charming, all would be secured at a coup." 

" If I did my part — and he hated himself 
for that ' if,' which suggested a distrust 
he did not feel — my name would within 
a week appear on the piano of every 
fasliionable drawing-room m the United 
Kingdom. " 

In imagination, Herr Droigel already 
beheld me presented, in bold letters, to 
the attention of British aristocracy thus : 
En Silent flours. 

SONG. 

Composed, and by permission dedicated to Lady Muriel Brooks, 

BT 

Theodore Dellaeo. 
Sung hy Miss Trenet. 

6 2 



84 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Ah, my cliild," he said, with a mournful 
shake of his head, " what a future might 
not be yours if, with the divine gift of 
voice, you were but possessed with a mortal 
passion for fame !" 

"So I am," I answered ; "I want to 
receive more applause than Miss Hawtrey." 

"Good, good!" exclaimed my master, 
laughing approvingly ; "go and get thee 
ready, little maiden, and the sHpper shall 
yet be fitted to thy foot ; Cinderella and 
Droigel's cliild shall come to great honour." 

Thus it came about I was dressed on 
that particular evening in all my best, and 
ready in good time to start with Herr 
Droigel for the concert-room. 

We were early, but there had been 
previous arrivals, and I found myself 
amongst quite a crowd of artistes listening 
to the usual Babel of tongues and confu- 
sion of languages. There was the prima 
donna of the opposition Opera-house — 
talking to her was a new tenor, who had 
made his bow to an English audience for 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 85 

the first time that season : ah, how smooth 
and sweet flowed on the soft Italian utte- 
rances in contrast to the German gabble 
that came from a group on my right 
hand ! 

There was a lady whose dress seemed 
to occupy the whole room. At first, I 
thouo;ht her beautiftd, but a nearer view 
dispelled tliis illusion. She was sighing 
and gasping, and uttering the word " Ach !" 
in every possible tone of misery. 

Droigel asked her what was the matter, 
and she told him she had no voice — no, 
not one note — she had caught a cold so 
fearful ; and then she laid her hand upon 
an acre of neck made white as snow by 
judicious art, and sighed again. 

" We have all colds," she went on, " all, 
except Mademoiselle Hawtrey, and she 
never has a cold, and is never out of 
voice, and never discomposed. Bah ! look 
at her." 

And we did look at that estimable lady, 



8t) HOME, SWEET HOME. 

who with calm face and smooth manner 
was asking Signor Dellaro some questions 
concerning a song she held in her hand. 
She hummed a passage in it, to ascertain 
if her reading were correct. 

" That is not right, I am sure," said Herr 
Droigel's Hmigarian friend, never pausing 
in her onward passage to utter this pleasant 
remark, but flinging it, Parthian-hke, be- 
hind her. 

Miss Hawtrey raised her eyebrows and 
looked at Signor Dellaro. But the strong- 
minded lady proved right. The reading 
was not correct ; and here, at the outset of 
the evening, were the elements for a crash 
amongst the harmony. 

Such a Babel — in one corner the 
lady with the hundred yards of tulle, 
trying at once to save her skirts from 
damage, and to perfect herself in the 
words of an Enghsh, or rather a Scotch 
ballad — which, utterly indifferent to the 
confusion around, she rehearsed out loud. 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 87 

Anything like that recitation I never 
heard. She enlisted me into the service, 
and I did my best to put her right, but 
it was useless, as she immediately went 
wrong. 

"The, not ze — and for, not four," ex- 
claimed the Hungarian, so close at her 
ear that she dropped the music, and with 
a tragic expression placed both hands on 
her heart. 

" Mein Gott," she said to me, " dat 
woman she is awful. No, not for no money 
would I have her energy, it is dreadful ;" 
and then, with a heartrending sigh and 
little husky cough, she turned once again 
to her task. 

At last the concert began ; there was 
nothing in the opening piece to interest 
any of us, and so we remained in our room, 
hearing every now and then some tremen- 
dous bang on the piano, and the cries of 
a violin in acutest agony. 

"Dere, dat is over at last, and a goot 



HOME, SWEET HOME. 



thing too," said my companion ; " de next 
is a quartette. Who sings ? — 0, I 
see." 

After that there was a move ; we all 
crowded as close to the door leading to 
the stage as we could get, in order to hear 
the "bright particular star." 

She sang magnificently. " But she is 
not — no, she is not Serlini," observed Herr 
Droigel ; for which remark the new tenor 
at once took him to task. 

"I should think not," said the gentle- 
man scornfully, in rapid Itahan. " I should 
hope not — her voice is a miracle — herself 
perfection. Serlini !" and here, at a loss 
how to express liis contempt for that popu- 
lar favourite, he began to wander amongst 
the names of all the saints contamed in 
his calendar, and called upon them to 
witness how superior was the Countess 
prima donna to anything which had ever 
gone before or ever could come after her. 

For a time Droigel listened, then he 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 



broke out in German ; and not the less 
terrible was his wrath to hear uttered in 
that language, because he was obliged to 
speak almost in a whisper. 

Like a torrent he swept on. What did 
the tenor know about music, or singing, or 
acting, or — bah ! Serlini needed no knight 
to tilt for her — England, Europe, the 
world, were her admirers ; all nations 
shrined her in their hearts. She was the 
prima donna — not of a season, but of all 
time — not of one country, but of every 
land. 

" For heaven's sake be quiet," said the 
Hungarian, at this juncture seizing his 
arm ; " the house will hear you ;" which, 
indeed, was extremely probable, seeing the 
singer was at that moment executing a 
cadenza to the delight of an audience so 
still that they seemed almost to hold their 
breath to listen ; and Signor Dellaro — 
hands suspended over the piano, waiting 
for her to come to earth again — was 



90 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

looking anxiously and angrily towards the 
curtain, behind which we stood peeping. 

What a storm of applause ! It filled the 
room like a strong wind ; it sank, and then 
began again, over and over. Vainly Madame 
la Comtesse tried to leave the platform. 
The audience would not hear of it ; there 
is a moment's dead silence, and through 
the stillness her notes rang out ; and we, 
who being singers ourselves might have 
been supposed slightly indifferent to the 
singing of another, listened spell- bound. 

" Everything must sound flat after that," 
said Miss Hawtrey, with a pretty modesty. 
" I wish I had not to sing to-night." 

" So do I," exclaimed the Hungarian, 
and at this there was a titter, because her 
words, though apparently innocent, held a 
double meaning, which we understood per- 
fectly. 

" We could not spare you, Madame 
Szeredy," said Herr Droigel, gallantly ; 
which I thought was going a Uttle too 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 91 

far, and so tried most imprudently to say 
something civil to Miss Hawtrey. 

" I do not think I have the pleasure of 
your acquaintaince," she remarked, and 
turned her back upon me. 

"I should think the pleasure of that 
acquaintance would be all on one side, like 
some people's reciprocity," murmured an 
Irishman, with a rich brogue, and of course 
we tittered again. 

There is no place in the world where the 
sense of weariness is so great, and the sense 
of thankfulness for even a very small joke 
so keen as in the artistes' room. If the 
joke have a flavour of personal bitterness, 
it is reHshed natiu^ally all the more. 

After the prima donna, and by way of a 
sensible break between her and the next 
vocalist, came a pianoforte solo ; then 
singer succeeded to singer. The Hungarian, 
who, having been engaged in a sharp 
passage of words with an impracticable 
bass, who had ventured to disagree with 



92 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

her, left us with the expression of a devil, 
and was next moment smiling Hke an 
angel to the audience ; Miss Hawtrey, who 
was received with enthusiasm as an old 
and estabhshed favourite ; the tenor, who 
took part in a trio ; my friend, who had 
forgotten the pronunciation of every word 
— which was of the less consequence, as no 
human being could hear a distinct syllable ; 
then ten minutes' interval — during which 
we had most of us wine, a few of us water ; 
then a general shaking-out of dresses on 
the part of the ladies, and much contempla- 
tion of themselves in mirrors on the part of 
the gentlemen ; then the performances re- 
opened with a duet ; and then — 

" Courage, Annie 1" said Herr Droigel. 

As we passed Miss Hawtrey, I saw her 
touch her companion the tenor, who looked 
at me with an amused smile, whilst she 
kept her eyes fixed on my face with an 
insolent stare. 

" You are trying to make me nervous," 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 93 

I thought. " Well, we shall see ;" and with 
heightened colour, and my head held a little 
more erect than usual, I passed on. 

The audience was in high good humour. 
No person except a singer can have an idea 
of the difference it makes whether those 
who have preceded her have been good or 
the reverse. So far the concert had proved 
exceptionally successful. The vocalists and 
instrumentaHsts had done their best, the 
selections were judicious, the accompany- 
ing perfection ; and the consequence 
of all this was that when I appeared on 
the platform there arose such a tempest of 
clapping, that I had to curtsey an excep- 
tional number of times, and Droigel was 
obhged to pause before commencing the 
accompaniment. 

Then I opened my music — I could smg 
without it, but the sheet gave me a sort of 
artificial courage — and began. 

The song was simply exquisite. It is 
one that to this day sells in that mysterious 



94 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

manner in which some old songs do sell, 
though no human being can imagine who 
buys them. It was a simple melody, 
linked to charming words ; and I suppose 
I must have sung it well, for the applause 
which followed was sufficient to make 
Miss Hawtrey's heart stand still with 
amazement. 

"You have made them weep," said 
Droigel, as, proud and happy, he followed 
me down the steps and behind the curtain, 
where stood Dellaro, radiant with de- 
light. 

" I could kiss you, child ; you are a 
marvel," he exclaimed ; " but you wiU 
have to go on again — do not you hear 
theml" 

I did hear them ; I was not deaf ; and 
the clapping was louder than ever, when I, 
led on by the Signor, reappeared to make 
my curtsey. That was not, however, all 
they wanted. 

" The last two verses," said DeUaro, in a 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 95 

hurried whisper : and he seated liimself 
at the piano, in order to save time and 
prevent confusion. 

He did not accompany so well as Droigel; 
but what mattered that % I was warm to 
my work, and could have sung just as well 
without any instrument at all. 

I had won my spurs that night ; I knew 
it, I felt it. The ball was at my feet, the full 
goblet at my lips. Yes, I had done all, 
and more than all my most sanguine friends 
had ever prophesied. 

The hearts of the people were touched. 
I, Annie Trenet, had done it : I had 
brought tears to eyes I might never look 
into — sent never-to-be-forgotten sounds 
into ears no spoken word of mine might, 
save in song, ever reach. I was trium- 
phant ; I felt almost delirious in my joy 
as I walked back into the artistes' room, 
clappiQg and applause still following my 
retiring steps. 

" I beg to congratulate you most 



96 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

heartily," said Miss Hawtrey, rising, and 
coming to meet me. 

Wliilst I was answering her with what 
grace I might, some one said, sarcastically, 
" The king is dead ; long hve the king !" 
and she winced and turned white, as though 
she had received a blow. Just then Herr 
Droigel came hurrying up to me. 

" Put on your wraps, dear child, and let 
us get away. Thou art tired, and there's 
yet another pleasure for thee." 

I clasped my fur tippet — in those days 
jackets as yet were not — drew a hood over 
my head, and slipped my hand into his 
arm. 

We descended the stairs, threaded the 
passages, and gained the vestibule of the 
private entrance. 

" What is it ?" I had panted out as he 
huri'ied me along. 

Now he answered — 

'' Who is that T 

A man stood near the doorway m deep 



AFTER LONG YEARS. 97 

shadow. I could not see his face, but I 
guessed who it was in a moment. 

" Uncle Isaac !" I cried ; and as he 
stretched out his arms, I flung mine round 
his neck, and kissed him over and over 
again. 

" I am so glad — so glad !" was all I could 
say. 

*' And so am I," he replied. "Oh, Nannie, 
if my mother could but have lived to come 
with me and hear you sing as you sang to- 
night !" 

" Do you think she would have liked it T 
I asked. 

" Liked it ! I suppose, Nan, I ought to 
be ashamed to confess, but I am not ; I 
have been crying like a child." 

All this time Herr Droigel stood apart, 
blowing his nose ostentatiously. 

" Was not Droigel right ?" he said as we 
drove home all together, shaking his fist in 
the face of some imaginary antagonist. 
" Was he not, you just tell me that ? Ha I" 

VOL. IIL 7 



CHAPTEE IV. 

MY RELATIONS. 




Y uncle supped with us that night. 

When we reached home I ran up 

stairs, took oif my fur tippet and 

evening finery, put on a plain mushn dress, 

and went down to ask " if I did not look 

more like myself ?" 

"I do not think the old self is much 
changed," said my uncle, fondly. A happy 
man was he. Once or twice he laid down 
his knife and fork, and turned round to 
look at me nesthng close beside him. 

" Now I wonder whether I am awake or 
dreaming?" he remarked, at length. "I 
must pinch myself to find out." 

" ' If Giles, I've lost two horses, to my cost. 
If not, odd bodkins ! I have found a cart,' " 



MY RELATIONS. 99 

I quoted gleefully, " Uncle, were you 
not very proud of me to-night ? I can 
assure you I felt very glad of myself — to 
borrow a phrase from Signer Dellaro." 

" Why most particular to-night T in- 
quired Madame. 

" I am modest," I answered ; " ask Herr 
Droigel." 

" Because," he said — " Ach ! how can I 
reproduce the scene ? — because she sang as 
she has sung never before — because she 
took the house with her, and made that 
being angelic, Miss Hawtrey, turn white 
^vith envy — because to-night more than 
ever she is the child of Droigel — liis soul 
child — to express my stupid thought." 

" I am siu-e Annie and I owe a debt of 
gratitude to you we can never re^Day," re- 
marked my uncle. But the Professor put 
this aside with a wave of his hand. 

" It might have been a matter of business 
and interest once," he said, with a mixture 
of pathos and tenderness, " but that time 

1—2 



100 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

has gone and passed. Between her and 
Gretchen his love now could distinguish 
no difference. Is it not so, wife of mine V 
he asked, turning to Madame for confirma- 
tion of this, as he did when she was present 
of all other deviations from truth. 

"Yes." Madame could not say the re- 
verse ; so great was his love that had her 
Gretchen not a disposition most amiable, 
she might have cause for jealousy. 

" Absurd, mother !" exclaimed Gretchen, 
in anything rather than an amiable manner. 
■ " My child !" said Herr Droigel, reprov- 
ingly. 

"True, papa," observed Gretchen, quickly, 
" it was very rude, and I beg jDar- 
don ; but the idea of my being jealous 
of Annie !" And to my intense surprise 
she came I'ound from where she sat and 
kissed me. " Papa may be as fond of you 
as he likes," she went on, addressmg my 
astonished self, " but he could not make 
me jealous. Remember that — no one could 



MY RELATIONS. 101 

make me jealous of you;" and then with 
a heightened colour she returned to her 
seat, while I, to change a conversation 
which had suddenly turned mto a dan- 
gerous, and to me, uninteUigible channel, 
asked my uncle about Mrs. Isaac and the 
children, Tommy especially. 

Next morning I had the pleasure of 
seemg my aunt and the young ladies. I 
walked round before breakfast to their 
lodgmgs, which were close at hand, and had 
the pleasure of partaking of that meal with 
those who were, so said my aunt, "my 
own blood-relations — and blood is thicker 
than water, you know, my dear," she added, 
as if stating some curious physical fact 
caviare to the multitude. 

On the whole, looking at my relations, I 
thought I preferred water. Time and 
prosperity had not improved my aunt's 
appearance : the former had rendered her 
very stout and florid, the latter had caused 
her to affect dresses of staring colours and 



102 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

remarkable patterns. She had attained to 
the possession of that massive cable-pattern 
chain mentioned in an early part of this 
story, and her manner was a curious mixture 
of self-assertion and subserviency. 

She always seemed on the point of 
lording her position over me as in the old 
times departed, but changed her tone when 
she suddenly remembered my position was 
as good as hers. 

" Not quite so respectable," she took 
care to inform me before she left London, 
*' as might have l^een wished ; but then 
people cannot pick and choose, and it is 
wonderful how lucky you have been." 

It never occurred to Mrs. Isaac that my 
own endeavours had in the smallest degree 
contributed to my success ; she regarded 
the whole matter as she might a fortunate 
draw in a lottery — which way of regarding 
artistic success is not, I find, uncom- 
mon. 

In my aunt's estimation, had Heaven 



MV RELA TIONS. 103 

been just or the fates auspicious, Jemima 
Jane or some other of her daughters, 
should have attracted the notice of Herr 
Droigel, in which case, as she concisely 
stated her opinion to the Professor, " There 
would have been something to show for the 
money." 

"You are an epigrammatic dear lady," 
answered the Professor, which phrase 
Mrs, Isaac happily took to mean some- 
thing eminently complimentary, and said 
afterwards to her friends at Fairport 
that " ReaUy, for a German, Herr Droigel 
seemed a very intelligent sort of person." 

I could not — though I have always 
tried to abstain from fetching and carry- 
ing — resist repeating this utterance to 
miy master, who laughed at it till his 
sides ached. 

Indeed, I fear he and I took a consider- 
able amount of amusement out of Mrs. 
Isaac. If we talked a little less about the 
folH'es and vulgarities of her offspring, it 



104 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

was only human — they chanced, unhappily, 
to be uncle Isaac's children as well. 

Those were the days when extremely 
full dresses were worn— full at the bottom, 
equally full at the waist — and my cousins 
had thought it necessary to develop an 
amount of bustle and of gathers and double 
gathers on their hips, wliich gave them an 
extraordinary appearance. Bodices were 
then worn peaked or rounded in front, and 
fastened up behind with hooks and eyes. 
A back as flat as a pasteboard, and of im- 
mense length, was considered part of a 
"fine figure" at Fairport, I discovered; 
and I found also, from listening to my 
aunt's conversation, that the greater the 
number of breadths which could be coaxed 
into a skirt the more fashionable it was 
considered. 

" You mayn't believe me," said Mrs, Isaac, 
who evidently considered my attire behind 
the ag^, " but Jemima has ten breaths" — 
thus she pronounced ' breadths ' — " in that 



MY RELATIONS. 105 

gown she is wearing, and every one is a 
yard wide. Get up, dear, and let your 
cousin see." 

I did see. Jemima Jane arose, and 
favoured me with a view of her person. 
She was well-grown and large-boned — alto- 
gether the sort of frame on which a light 
blue dress, with an immense checked pat- 
tern, might be supposed to show to advan- 
tage. 

" It's very stylish and genteel," suggested 
my aunt. 

"It is very uncommon," I assented. 

" We said, when we see Annie we'll see 
the fashions," she went on, looking dis- 
paragingly at my dress ; " but you never 
were much of a one for showing oif clothes, 
or making the most of yourself." 

" I am afraid I was not," I replied ; " but 
you will see plenty of dress and fashion 
when you go into Regent Street and the 
Park." 

" Of course, Annie, you are going to 



106 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

show us the Kons !" interposed Jemima 
Jane, turning her engaged ring round and 
round a stubby red finger. 

" I am not my own mistress," I answered, 
with a smile born of gratitude at the 
thought. 

" Tut, tut !" exclaimed Mrs. Isaac, jubi- 
lantly ; " we'll ask your teacher to give you 
a holiday," 

" Thank you, aunt," I said, demurely. 

Just then my uncle entered, accompanied 
by Herr Droigel. Already the former had 
taken a walk into the Strand, thence 
through St. James's Park, returning by the 
Horse Guards ; then he had walked down 
Parhament Street and crossed Westminster 
Bridge, making his way back by Black- 
friars and Fleet Street, Drury Lane, Co vent 
Garden, and a few other short cuts to our 
house, north of what was then called the 
City Boad. There he picked up Herr 
Droigel, who had happily already break- 
fasted, and who, smiling benignantly, was 



A/V RELATIONS. 107" 

introduced to Mrs. Isaac and the young^ 
ladies. 

" I was just saying," began my aunt, 
after her offer of weak tea and cold toast 
had been declined, "that we would ask 
you to give Annie a holiday. We want ta 
buy some things," Then she looked mys- 
terious, and the gii'ls commenced to giggle. 

" Hen- Droigel knows all about the 
matter, my dear," said her husband. 

" Well, indeed, it would have been too 
bad to make a stranger of you after all 
you have done for Annie," she went on, 
directing her reply to the Professor ; " and 
there is nothing to be ashamed of that I 
can see in a daughter being about 
to settle herself suitably and respect- 
ably " 

" Ashamed, Madame !" cried HeiT 
Droigel. "It is a thmg to glory in — to 
rejoice over. And which young Miss is it 
that means to make her betrothed so- 
happy?" 



108 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Oh, my eldest, of course," said the 
proud mother, indicating Jemima, who 
coloured, and simpered, and bridled. 

" Why, of course T asked Droigel, inno- 
cently. " There is no order of precedence 
in marriage in England, is there ?" 

" Not exactly," explained my aunt ; " but 
first come first served, you know." 

" True : an adage most admirable. Ah ! 
what a fortunate man to be this young 
lady's choice ! And so you desu-e that 
Annie should assist in selecting the 
trousseau ? Her time, as you know, dear 
Madame, is much occupied, but still she 
shall go. Yes, we can manage it, Annie, 
is it not so ? But you must take care of 
yourself — no headache — no white tired 
face " 

"Annie isn't delicate," interposed Mrs, 
Isaac ; " she always looked thin and pale, 
but she never ailed like my children. 
Little as any one might thmk it, I have 
known my girls forced to go to bed ill, 



MY RELATIONS. 10^ 

while tlieii' cousin played herself about 
on the sands." 

Which was indeed quite true ; but then 
her girls were given to over-eating, and 
even had my inclinations been in that 
direction, there would have lain no pos- 
sible means of gratifying them. 

" Strange !" mused Herr Droigel. " And 
yet your young misses now put the cheeks, 
of my Amiie to reproach. They look 
indeed in insolent health." 

" You mean rude health, don't you, Herr 
Droigel ?" I suggested, laughmg at his 
assumption of ignorance at my aunt's look 
of horrified astonishment. 

" Are the words not identical ?" he in- 
quh-ed, surveying us all with a bland smile. 
" My dear Madame, forgive this stupid 
fellow. Out of my music I am a fool." 

" We can't allow that, can we, papa V 
said Mrs. Isaac, her good humour restored, 
appealing to the father of her children. 
"So Annie may come ?" she went on. " I 



110 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

am sure she ought to be very much obhged 
to you." 

" Herr Droigel is aware of my senti- 
TQents, aunt," I remarked. 

" But, Madame, pardon," began the Pro- 
fessor, " I am dull, and I cannot see how 
this dear Annie will help the momentous 
choice. You take her into a shop, and 
set her down before a counter. Shopman 
brings rolls of silks and satins. Annie 
would buy anything she was told. She 
is still a child — a baby. If you want help, 
judgment, some one able to talk to the 
British tradesman, take my Gretchen. 
Aha ! I tell our Annie her little gifb 
of song should have come to Gretchen — 
that she is in unlawful possession of stolen 
goods." 

" I think that myself," said Mrs. Isaac. 
*' It is better to be born lucky than rich, 
as the saying is. And Amiie has been 
a lucky girl. I only hope she is suffi- 
ciently thankful for all the good fortune 



MY RELATIONS. Ill 

that has dropped into her lap. When I 
look back and think about her, the whole 
story seems like a fairy tale." 

" So it does to me," I remarked, " ex- 
tremely like Cinderella and the glass 
shpper, only I have neither seen nor danced 
with the Prince as yet." 

" Annie, Annie," remonstrated the Pro- 
fessor, in a stage wliisper, whilst Mrs. 
Isaac coloured, and the girls tittered, and 
my uncle rising, said, "If we mean to do 
anything to-day, had we not better be 
doing it without more delay T 

" Yes, yes," cried Herr Droigel, eagerly, 
" and you, dear sir, trust yourself to me, 
is it not so % whilst the ladies exchange 
their private confidences. Annie, if Gret- 
chen can be of any service on your dehcate 
mission, she is as ever ready to answer 
to your beck and caU. We meet together 
at a friendly tea. Till then " The re- 
mainder of the sentence was lost in an 
elaborate and comprehensive bow. 



112 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" What a funny man !" remarked Jemima 
Jane, as the door closed behind him. 

" He is nice though, and good-natured," 
said her sister. 

"It is nothing short of a miracle that 
Annie should have fallen on such a friend," 
observed Mrs. Isaac. She did not approve 
of miracles bemg wrought in favour of any 
one outside her own family, and her tone 
expressed this feeling. 

" I think I shall go round for Gretchen," 
I began ; " she knows far more about shops 
and shopping than I do." 

" But remember you are to come with 
us as well," exclaimed Jemima, who was 
sharp enough to understand I had medi- 
tated escaping from the expedition. 

" Of course," was my resigned answer. 

" Cannot we go to Herr Droigel's with 
you ?" asked my aunt. 

" It would be out of your way. I shall 
be back by the time you and the girls are 
ready." And without waiting for further 



M V RE LA TIONS. 113 

suggestions, I ran downstairs, and left 
the trio to criticize me at their leisure. 

Gretchen I knew would impress them. 
I longed to see Mrs. Isaac's face when she 
beheld that young person ; and I walked 
rapidly homeward, thinking the while 
which dress I should like her to wear — 
which of her bonnets was most becoming 
to her, 

" This is an unexpected pleasure, Miss 
Trenet," were the words that roused me 
from an imaginary contemplation of Gret- 
chen, clad in a hght blue mushn that I 
particularly admired, flecked with white 
spots, and flounced to perfection ; and with 
a shght start I stopped suddenly, and, 
looking up, found myself face to face with 
Mr. Sylvester. 

There he stood — the same handsome, 
courteous gentleman I could remember 
knowing by sight and hearsay for more 
than half my lifetime, but his manner was 
kinder and more cordial than I had ever 

VOL. III. 8 



114 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

felt it in my London experience of his 
acquaintance, and he smiled even while 
he apologized for starthng me. 

" I was surprised to meet you all alone,'* 
he said ; "I have just seen Miss Droigel, 
and she told me you were spending the 
day with some relatives." 

" I shall have to spend it with them,'* 
I answered, so ruefully that he smiled 
again. " I am now on my way to ask 
Gretchen to go shojjping with us." 

" An occupation ladies deUght m, I am 
told." 

" I do not," was my reply. " Gretchen 
does though, I thmk ; but then, she under- 
stands all about it — -that makes such a 
difference." 

" I suppose so. She delights m shoppmg 
for the same reason that you dehght m 
music." 

" I do not delight in music." 

" What ! tired of it akeady, notwith- 
standing the enthusiastic manner in which 



MY RELATIONS. 115 

your song was received last night? I 
never heard more hearty applause." 

"Were you there?" I asked. "I did 
not see you." 

*' I was not in the reserved seats ; I sat 
near your uncle, whom I know by sight, 
and thought of introducing myself, and 
saying something I have decided I ought to 
repeat to you or him." 

" What is it ? why not say it to me ?" 

" I will, having had the good fortune to 
meet you. You must remember how diffi- 
cult — impossible, I might substitute — it 
has been to speak a sentence to you 
alone." 

" I am not hkely to forget that," I re- 
plied ; " but Herr Droigel means it entirely 
for my good." 

" The course he pursues is judicious," 
returned Mr. Sylvester, " and I for one 
should not resent it, were his restrictions 
less sweeping. However, I have found my 
opportunity, and this is what I want to 

8-2 



116 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

say : — One day when Madame Serlini was 
speaking about you and Herr Droigel — 
observing; what a marvellous teacher he 
was, and so forth— she remarked that she 
hoped your guardians, whoever they might 
be, would see you did not enter hastily mto 
agreements for any lengthened period." 

" I do not exactly understand what you 
mean," I said. 

" You understand that, according to his 
own statement, Droigel is a child of na- 
ture." 

"Yes," I answered, laughing. 

" Well, then, what Madame Serlmi evi- 
dently thinks is, that he is a child who 
knows much more of the world and its 
ways than you, and who will very probably 
try to make an exceedingly good thing out 
of your future. " 

" But of course he expects to make 
money by my singing," I replied. 

" Of course ; but if you must sing, you 
ought to make money too — that is all. I 



M Y RE LA TIONS. 1 1 7 

hope you will not consider me officious or 
troublesome for having mentioned this 
matter to you ?" 

" Oh ! no, indeed : I am most grateful." 

" Perhaps you will talk it over with your 
uncle ?" 

" I think not," I said, after a moment's 
hesitation. 

" May I ask why not ?" 

" You know what sort of person Herr 
Droigel is as well as I," was my reply ; "at 
least, perhaps not quite so well, but that 
makes no difference. Now, my uncle be- 
Heves him to be precisely what he calls 
himself — a man who wears his heart on his 
sleeve." 

" And therefore " suggested Mr. Syl- 
vester. 

I paused. 

" He is happy in knowing I have such a 
good home — that my welfare is looked after 
by one whom he imagines to be utterly un- 
selfish and straightforward." 



118 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

"Yes?" It was all my companion said, 
but it was interrogative. 

" If I told him that Herr Droigel, though 
so kind to and fond of me, is — a — a — I 
scarcely know how to express myself." 

" Humbug," added Mr. Sylvester. 

" I thuik that is what I mean," I agi'eed, 
though a feeling I could scarcely define 
prevented my repeating the word. " My 
uncle would get anxious about me, and he 
could do nothing — no one could do any- 
thing. Herr Droigel may not be always 
quite — true," I went on, desperately, " but 
next to my grandmother and uncle Isaac 
he has been the best friend I ever had. I 
love them aU — Herr Droigel, Madame, 
and Gretchen — they have been good and 
kind to me; and I am very, very much 
obHged to you, but please do not say any- 
thing about this to any one, and I wiU not 
either." 

I held out my hand as I finished my 
sentence, feehng in a great flutter of ner- 



MY RELATIONS, 119 



"vousness and apprehension — nervousness at 
having spoken so freely to Mr. Sylvester, 
apprehension lest Herr Droigel should by 
any evil chance pass that way, and see me 
talking to him. 

" Good-bye," said Mr. Sylvester, with a 
grave smile ; adding, " then you think you 
are quite capable of taking care of your- 
self?" 

" I am taken almost too much care of," I 
answered. "As to money, except that I 
wished to make a success, and prove what 
Gretchen calls a 'good speculation,' I have 
never given it a thought until now." 

" Pity you ever should have to give it a 
thought," he remarked, " If I can be of 
use to you at any time, remember you have 
another friend besides Herr Droigel and 
your uncle." 

He was gone, to my intense rehef ; he 
raised his hat, and turned slowly away. 
Never during the whole time passed under 
Herr Droigel's roof had I ever kept a secret 



120 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

from my master, and how I was to face 
Gretchen and tell her nothing of my inter- 
view, puzzled me not a little. 

So great indeed was my perplexity that 
I went a Httle round, in order to compose 
my feehngs ; indeed, I took quite a detour, 
and thus added another sin to those already 
committed. 

And yet there was a sense of guilty joy 
in my heart as I walked up one street, and 
along another, and down a thu'd — I felt 
like a prisoner who has broken bounds ; 
but still there was a sense of dehght in 
remembering that I had been for a few 
minutes, that I was still for a few minutes, 
free. So much did this novel sensation 
impress me, that I began to speculate 
whether one day I might not obtain my 
liberty altogether, and go about and see 
people as Gretchen did, unattended — with- 
out anybody saying me " yea" or " nay." 

I was, however, notwithstanding all these 
audacious ideas, too much of a coward and 



AIV RELA TIONS. 121 

a captive to dare prolong my walk ; and so 
after a delay which certainly did not ex- 
ceed ten minutes, I knocked at Herr 
Droigel's door. 

When she heard my voice, Gretchen 
came into the hall. 

" Your papa said you would go out mth 
us to-day," I began ; "I hope you will. 
My aunt knows nothing about London, and 
I know notliing of shopping ; and she 
wants to buy the trousseau." 

" That is certainly more my department 
than yours," answered Gretchen, " but you 
must not expect me to go without you." 

" No. I have promised them to re- 
turn as soon as possible. And, Gretchen, 
put on your blue muslin and the new 
bomiet." 

" What ! waste all that sweetness on 
Aunt Jane?" exclaimed Gretchen, m amaze- 
ment. 

"She evidently thinks I am such a 
dowdy," I said, in explanation. 



122 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" So that for the honour of the estabhsh- 

ment " began Gretchen. " Well, if I 

must — I must." And she ran up to the 
first landing, where she paused to say, 
" By-the-bye, Annie, you have just con- 
trived to miss seeing an admirer of yours." 
Though my thoughts were full of Mr. 
Sylvester, the word she employed threw 
them off that track, and I exclaimed — 

" Signor Dellaro ? He was wonderfully 
gracious and complimentary last night." 

" No ; there has been a note from Dellaro, 
speaking of you in the tenderest manner — 
written evidently after supper, but that 
fact does not detract from the merits of 
the composition. Our early visitor was 
Miss Cleeves' friend, Mr. Sylvester. He 
came to leave his congratulations, or con- 
dolences, on your latest triumph. He seemed 
very much at a loss how to express his feel- 
ings, however. I fancy although he hkes 
Hstening to surging, he considers singing 
in itself a sinful recreation. Still, he 



MY RELATIONS. 123 

acknowledged the reception you met with 
was marvellous. I suggested it was some- 
thing like what Miss Cleeves desired to 
experience, and he instantly froze into an 
iceberg. After all, I think Miss Cleeves 
was right. For my part, I would as soon 
marry Sir Charles Grandison." 

" I suppose I ought to feel very much 
obHged to him," I said ; the consciousness 
of deceit lying like a crime at my 
heart. 

" Of course you ought ; though why, I 
have not the faintest idea. But I suppose 
it is a marvellous act of condescension for 
any one connected with the Wiffordes even 
to speak to an artiste. Of course it is all for 
love of Miss Cleeves. He knows she likes 
you, and thinks to please her by calling. But 
he would rather not have called — I could 
see that. When he found that papa was 
out and mamma invisible, he fled from the 
drawing-room. I can use no other word to 
express the precipitate manner in which he 



124 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

retired. Now I shall go and di'ess, and 
astonish Mrs. Isaac Motfield with a vision 
of loveliness." 
Which she did. 




CHAPTEH V. 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 




|0 person need ever desire to see 
another more amazed than my aunt 
was at sight of Miss Gretchen Droi- 
gel. She was so surprised that for a few 
moments she actually lost fluency of utte- 
rance, whilst the girls remained dumb. By 
the time however they had closely scruti- 
nized and mentally appraised Gretchen's at- 
tire, they felt consoled. After all, she only 
wore a muslin — ay, but such a muslin ! 
only a silken scarf — but worn with such 
coquettish grace. Only a white aerophane 
bonnet, trimmed with a little lace, and orna- 
mented by a blush rose, leaves, and bud — 
but oh ! what a beautiful face it shaded. 
After all, they were as well dressed as 



126 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

she, in their own opinion ; and when 
people turned round in the street to stare 
at our party, as well they might, my 
cousins attributed these marks of respect 
to their own attractions ; whereas, it was 
only the discrepancy between Gretchen's 
appearance and theirs which rendered us all 
so conspicuous. Indeed, it was not long be- 
fore Mrs. Isaac took occasion to inform 
me — 

" You are just as insignificant-looking 
as ever, Annie." 

" Yes, aunt," I replied, meekly ; but I 
did not add, that out in the London streets 
is about the last place in the world where 
a woman would wish to look significant. 
Oh ! that day — that weary, weary day — 
the horrors of which seem to lengthen 
themselves out once more as memory 
recalls their misery. 

Gretchen was by iiistmct too genuinely 
a citizen of the world, she was by habit 
and training too thoroughly a Londoner, to 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 127 

feel as annoyances those things which were 
to my different nature, to my narrower ex- 
perience, torture. 

She thought nothmg of our being ex- 
pected to stand five in a row along the 
pavement, whilst Mrs. Isaac and her 
daughters poured forth voluble inquiries 
concerning this building, or that statue 
(Mrs. Isaac pronounced the latter word 
statute). She was willing to stop at every 
attractive shop-window for such a time that 
I momentarily dreaded a poHceman asking 
us to move on. She remained languidly 
indifferent, whilst my aunt had half a shop- 
ful of goods brought down for her inspec- 
tion, and then walked out after buying 
nothing ; remarking in a patronizing manner 
that she would perhaps call again. In 
one place, when this statement was made, 
I saw the man wink to his neighbour, who 
winked in return, and then coughed 
vigorously. 

" I cannot endure this much longer. 



128 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Gretchen," I said, when at length Jemima 
Jane, having seen a silk which she desired for 
her weddmg-dress, her mother commenced 
a " deal" for it, by offering the shopman 
one-half the price he asked. " I feel ready 
to sink into the ground with shame." 

" If you can manage to sink into the 
ground, why not do so?" she inquired ; " but 
as for the shame, it is nonsense. She 
is only doing what all country people do, 
and the shopkeepers look upon it as a matter 
of course. Besides, you and I are not 
chaffermg. Make yourself happy ;" and 
she continued drawing a design upon the 
floor with her parasol, till Mrs. Isaac ap- 
pealed to her if she did not consider the 
silk very dear. 

Then Gretchen arose — how I envied her 
imperturbable composure ! — laid her hand, 
encased m a dehcate-coloured glove, on the 
silk, examined its quality, its width, its 
pecuhar shade. 

" I think it reasonable in price," she said. 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 129 

and the matter was settled. The silk was 
cut off, the account made out, the money 
paid, and when Mrs. Isaac was outside the 
shop, Gretchen told that lady she had got 
a dead bargain. 

I am now inclined to doubt the fact. 
Gretchen is an admh^able manager, and 
dresses in the most exquisite manner on an 
allowance which, ample as it is, seems to 
me small for the results produced ; and yet 
whenever she writes to tell me she has seen 
some " marvellous bargain," I always hasten 
to reply I do not want anything of the 
kind, lest a parcel should appear by an 
early train. 

Those silks, satms, furs, and laces which 
proved such bargams to Gretchen, never 
turned out cheap to me. 

She was her father's daughter, though 
happily deficient in his culmary tastes. It is 
not necessary to do more than indicate the 
fact of theu' mutual resemblance in order 
to make the reader understand why I be- 

VOL. IIL 9 



130 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

lieve Mrs. Isaac paid more for her daughter's 
wedding-dress than she might under dijSe- 
rent auspices. 

We went from street to street, we 
entered shop after shop, and our proceed- 
ings seemed to me a perpetual Da Capo. I 
had always hated Da Capos in music ; how 
much more did I hate them in the actions 
of human beings. 

If a thoroughfare had to be crossed, the 
feat was always effected after an amount of 
deliberation, a number of falterings, and a 
succession of false starts, which sometimes, 
though unhappily not always, brought a 
policeman to the rescue. 

The number of sixpences I expended 
that day on the Force, I regarded as an act 
of expiation for the dislike with which my 
kindred inspired me. 

Fancy three of them making a dart at a 
crossing — one backing, one taking a flying 
leap to the opposite curbstone, one standing 
still among the objurgations of omnibus- 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 131 

drivers, the " Now then, missus" of cab- 
men, the hidden jeers of street Arabs, who 
in tones of sympathy offered assistance, 
always mdignantly refused. Imagine people 
who would not keep to their own side of 
the pavement, who, eternally in the way 
themselves, complained of " pushing," and 
got into wordy arguments, which I and 
Gretchen had to explain and apologize for. 
Conceive of all this on a broiling summer's 
day — but what folly I am writing ! 

Has not every person resident in London 
gone through the ordeal ? Why should its 
horrors be reproduced in detail ? 

The culminating point, however, of my 
misery occurred in a pastrycook's shop, 
whither we all repaired to refresh our 
strength and injure our digestions. Ordi- 
narily, Gretchen and I were rather given 
to spend money freely at such estabhsh- 
ments, but on that special day I w^as so 
utterly exhausted with the heat, so tned 
with the clatter of my aunt's tongue, so ill 

9—2 



132 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

with mortification and absolute fatigue, 
that the mere sight of the sticky cakes, 
the swarming flies, the jam tarts that 
looked as if they never could get cool, 
filled me with disgust. 

From that hour to this I have never 
voluntarily entered a confectioner's. 

" Now, Miss Droigel, what will you 
take ?" asked my aunt, who, though dis- 
agreeable, was not inhospitable. 

"I?" said Gretchen. "An ice, thank 
you. Vanille," she added, addressing her- 
self to the young person behind the counter, 
who was by no means so marvellous a 
creation as the young person now to be 
beheld there. 

" Well," remarked Mrs. Isaac, " I'm 
hungry, so I should like something sub- 
stantial. What have you, young woman ?" 
This to the predecessor in ringlets of the 
naughty young females that in enormous 
chignons now dispense refreshments to 
an ever-increasing popula.tion. 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 133 

" Sausage rolls, beefsteak pies, pork pies," 
responded the young woman, glibly. 

" I'll try a pork pie," said Mrs. Isaac ; 
and, good heavens ! the thermometer stood 
at some infinite number of degrees in the 
shade. " And now, what are you going to 
have, Annie 1" 

" Nothing, thank you," I answered. 

" Nothing ! Nonsense, it wont cost you 
anything. Of course I mean to pay for all." 

" I cannot eat," I replied. 

" How absurd you are, Annie !" said 
Gretchen. " Have an ice ?" But I shook 
my head. 

" Should you like a glass of water, Miss ?" 
asked the shopwoman, seeing, no doubt, 
that I looked weary. 

" Yes, and have some jelly," Gretchen 
suggested. 

" No jeUy, thank you," I interposed. 

" Mercy upon us, child, what do you Hve 
on ?' asked my aunt. " Is there nothing 
you like ?" 



13i HOME, SWEET HOME. 

'' She likes me," replied Gretchen. 

" I am certain no one could help liking 
you," said Mrs. Isaac, with wonderful 
heartiness. 

By this time we were all served according- 
to our several fancies. Seated beside a 
small round table, my aunt — shawl 
unfastened, bonnet strings economically 
untied and flung back over her shoulders, 
gloves off, and rolled up into a little 
tidy ball — ate her pie, whilst her two 
daughters, determined to follow Gretchen 's 
lead without Gretchen's experience, gave 
themselves toothache by puttmg great 
spoonfuls of strawberry and raspberry 
ice into their mouths, and swallowing the 
same, with much trouble to themselves and 
pain to the beholders. 

My chair chanced to be placed so that 
I faced the wall, where I could catch a 
reflection of our party, and persons who 
passed up and down the shop in a glass, with 
which it was possible for me to see sideways. 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 135 

Those of us who were not pale with the 
heat, were red — a rich full-blown crimson ; 
and the young ladies, my cousins, were 
making themselves redder by swallowmg 
those wretched ices, in the same manner as 
a small quantity of water only serves to 
increase the intensity of flame issuing from 
a burning house. 

Further they had a plate of sponge cakes, 
to which they paid devoted court, and with 
the contents whereof they were crumbing 
themselves all over. From them I stole a 
look at Gretchen, cool, self-possessed — a 
little paler than usual, but otherwise un- 
changed mentally or physically. My rela- 
tions did not put her out. Why should 
they, not being hers ? The weather did not 
affect Gretchen. She neither turned blue 
in winter nor red in summer. Happy 
Gretchen! Happy, thrice happy at that 
moment, in not being me ! 

For after pausing to pay the young 
person who presided a little higher up the 



136 HOME, SWEET HOME., 

shop, a gentleman walked slowly out, 
raising his hat to Gretchen as he passed. 

His glance took in our group. I could 
see that in the mirror. I knew who it was, 
but I did not turn my head. 

" Who is that gentleman ?" asked my 
aunt, in a hurried whisper, before the door 
closed behind him. ' 

" An acquaintance of papa's," said 
Gretchen, calmly. Oh, Gretchen I how I 
blessed you for those four words. 

" His face seems to me familiar," re- 
marked Mrs. Isaac. " I must have seen him, 
or some one the living image of him, at 
some time." 

" Possibly you have seen him," suggested 
Gretchen. " He goes about a great deal, 
and visits at a number of country houses." 

"La, ma! he's the very moral of Mr. 
Sylvester, that used to come to Fairport 
with the Miss Wiifordes," said Jemima 
Jane, her accuracy of language being as 
remarkable as was her mother's. 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 137 

" His name is Birwood, I thiiik," said 
Gretchen, unmoved. " But papa does not 
know much of him." 

" Oh !" commented Mrs. Isaac. " He is 
certainly uncommon like Mr. Sylvester." 

" I fancy everybody is like somebody 
else," observed Miss Droigel, without a 
change of countenance. " If your friend 
resembles Mr. Birwood, he resembles an 
extremely unpleasant person." 

" Mr. Sylvester is no friend of ours," 
interposed my aunt, eagerly. " He is a 
high and mighty gentleman, he is — some 
sort of relation to those ladies who drove 
my poor husband's mother away from her 
home, and all • belonging to her, in her old 
age. I have never set eyes on him except 
riduig along the parade, or driving with 
the Miss Wiffordes." 

" Those are the dames of high degree 
you stood m such awe of, Annie, are they 
not ?" said Gretchen. 

" Well she might," exclaimed Mrs. Isaac. 



138 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" I dare say Annie has many a sad 
thought, even now, of all the trouble she 
brought to her poor old grandmother, who 
fahly worshipped the ground she walked 
on. She set up for herself an idol, and she 
reaped her reward. Ah !" And my aunt 
shook her head as if she was readmg a 
tract, every word of whicli appHed with 
twenty-horse power to the past or pre- 
sent or future state of some sinner — not 
herself 

" From all I have heard, I should say 
so," remarked Gretchen. " Mrs. Motfield 
deserved love, devotion, consideration, and 
she received all three." 

" Well, well, we wont talk about that 
any more," said Mrs. Isaac. 

" I think it will be better not," agreed 
Gretchen ; and I noticed from this tune a 
decrease in my aunt's cordiality of manner 
towards Miss Droigel, which change 
Gretchen accepted with her accustomed 
equanimity. 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 13{> 

While my aunt was settling for her 
provisions, which she did after the usual 
amount of grumbling and bargaining, with 
which I was growing familiar, and her 
daughters were settling their bonnets and 
composing then* faces before the mirror, I 
took occasion to whisper to Gretchen — 

" Why did you not say it was Mr. 
Sylvester Birwood ?" 

" Should you have wished me to say 
anything of the kmd ?" retorted Gretchen ; 
.and as she spoke I felt as though I were 
passmg through a fire. My cheeks had 
colour enough in them when Jemima Jane 
turned from the glass. 

" Gracious, Annie, do you carry rouge 
about with you T she inquired. " You 
were white as a lily a minute ago, and now 
you look like a rose." 

The circumstance of being engaged lent 
an occasional semblance of poetry to Miss 
Motfield's remarks. 

" Miss Trenet carries her rouge in a casket 



140 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

whence you will never be able to produce 
any," said Gretchen, heartily. 

Perfectly well Jemima understood a 
sneer lay hidden away in this sentence, but 
she declined to search for it, 

" I suppose you say that because she is a 
smger," was the way in which she parried 
the blow. 

" Perhaps, and for other reasons too nu- 
merous to explain." 

" Living in London makes people very 
clever, I think," remarked Jemima. 

" Do you think it has made your cousin 
clever T asked Gretchen. 

Jemima looked at me dubiously. "You 
must not try to be civil at the expense of 
candour," I said, coming to her rescue. 
" No one ever thought me clever, and no 
one ever will." 

" If we are to see Westminster Abbey, 
we have no time to lose," cried my aunt at 
this juncture. 

Oh these country people ! let them be 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 141 

old or young, weak or strong, men or 
women, they have when in London but one 
domuiant idea — to see as much and to en- 
joy as Httle as possible. 

Had we not done enough and seen enough 
for one day ? Well, well, we went to the 
Abbey, and saw as much of it as we could 
before afternoon service, to which we 
stayed, and which Mrs. Isaac considered a 
" poor affair," 

After that we had a turn round the 
Houses of Parhament, made a detour into 
St. James's Park, saw Buckingham Palace 
and the Duke of York's statue, and made 
our way along Pall Mall to St. Martm's 
Lane, where we took omnibus for 
home. 

" I wish these people had not come ; I 
wish they were gone," said Gretchen, as 
she turned to me, sittmg utterly weary and 
worn on the side of her bed. I had given 
up my room to the use of Mrs. Isaac and 
her daughters, and thus it chanced Gretchen 



142 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

and I were arraying ourselves for the family 
tea in company. 

" That woman does not like you ; she 
will do harm if she can." 

" She cannot do me any harm," I replied. 

" We shall see," remarked Gretchen. " I 
think I foresee." 

" What do you foresee ?" I asked. 

" Sufficient for the day," she answered. 
*' I fancy this day has been more than suffi- 
cient for you." 

" My head is achmg, and I am tked to 
death." 

" Precisely what papa expected. He said 
to me, ' Annie shall go and wear herself out 
the first day, after which I must interpose 
my authority.' " 

*' I wish he had interposed it to-day," I 
remarked. 

"And been compelled to go on mter- 
posing. No — I admire papa's tactics on 
this occasion. He wanted to free you at 
one blow, and you shall see how splendidly 
he will do it." 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 143 

As slie spoke I thought of what had 
passed between me and Mr. Sylvester con- 
cerning the Professor ; and half in weari- 
ness, half in fright, I uttered a deep sigh, 
and hid my face in the pillow. 

Gretchen crossed the room, her hair 
streaming down her back, and laid her 
hand on my shoulder. 

" You must not give up in that manner, 
young lady," she said. " Make an effort 
for this evening, and you shaU be free here- 
after, I promise you, little woman ;" and 
she kissed my cheek with new tenderness 
which seemed lately to have been born in 
her. " Shall I get some eau de Cologne and 
bathe your forehead ?" 

" No, thank you — oh no !" I answered, 
struggling to a standing position. " I shall 
be dressed as soon as you, Gretchen." 

" I do not imagine you will," she replied ; 
" but that makes no difference — I will go 
down and try to render myself agreeable to 
your charming aunt." 

" She is not charming at all," I said. 



144 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" No doubt some one thinks or thought 
her so," was the calm remark ; "I cannot 
say I do myself — on the contrary rather." 

It was not necessary to pursue the sub- 
ject, so I allowed it to drop, and Gretchen 
and I proceeded to make our toilettes in 
silence. Before we had completed them, 
however, we heard Herr Droigel's voice 
marvelling if his " vain children" meant to 
descend or not. 

" I am coming," cried Gretchen, adding 
as she ran downstairs, " as for Annie, she 
wanted to go to bed and never get up 
again. Her head is — as you might have 
anticipated. " 

" Ah ! ah ! ah ! ah !" moaned the Pro- 
fessor. " My Annie beloved ; what a shght, 
slender scabbard holds the sword of her 
genius ! I was wrong : we must no more of 
this — no more." 

After which byplay between father and 
daughter, each word in which was heard 
by Mrs. Isaac and my micle, Droigel en- 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 145 

tered his drawing-room and the door was 
shut. 

When I joined the party, all eyes turned 
on me — some curiously, some anxiously. 

" Come near to me, pale-face," cried Herr 
Droigel, rising and offering me an easy- 
chair close to his elbow, " I want to look 
at you ; I want to know how you repay 
me for granting a whole nine hours of hoh- 
■day. Ah ! ah ! cheeks white, eyes heavy, 
limbs weary, hands nerveless — no, no, Miss 
Annie, hohday-making is very well, but 
health is better, and if you cannot main- 
tain health you must not make hoH- 
day." 

At which speech Jemima Jane laughed, 
>and Mrs. Isaac looked disgusted. 

"It seems like new hght through old 
windows to hear of Annie being delicate," 
she observed. 

" I think she gives way a little some- 
times," added Madame, which speech so 
utterly astounded me that I dropped a 

VOL. III. 10 



146 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

flower I was holding, and looked at Herr 
Droigel's wife in blank amazement. 

" And I think we had better have some 
tea," said the Professor. " Here, you dear 
sir, you good micle, take charge of your 
niece. She is hke one of those flimsy 
papers of Threadneedle Street : she is of 
not much bulk, but she is of value." 

" As that dreadful man from the City 
whom Dellaro introduced the other evening 
said, ' There are notes and notes — bankers 
and bankers,' " I observed, trying to make 
myself agreeable. 

"When I was young," remarked Mrs. 
Isaac, in a tone intended to imply every- 
tliing had been right at that period of the 
world's history, " we were taught at school 
it was the height of rudeness to speak of 
people by their surnames." 

" Perhaps, aunt, you had not so many 
people to talk of in those days as Herr 
Droigel and I have now," was my reply. 
We are told a worm will turn. It seemed 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 147 

to me at the moment I had endured a con- 
siderable amount of trampling from my aunt, 
and the sooner I began to turn the better. 

After tea we relapsed into that state of 
apathetic dulness, of respectable stupidity, 
from which the meal had roused us. 

Tea is no doubt a comfortable and 
invigorating beverage, but it has no power 
to obtain fire from flint, to strike conver- 
sational sparks from stones. 

Very different was our talk from that 
of the happy evening before. We were 
as oil and water, our ideas would not mix 
and mingle. 

Herr Droigel and my uncle, and Gretchen 
and I did our best, but the spirits of the party 
seemed to He under a cloud. Mrs. Isaac 
was cross. As she would herself have said, 
" We were not of her sort," a grievous 
sin in her estimation. We were not rich 
enough or grand enough to impress her ; 
we were not sufficiently poor and humble 
to be patronized. Even Gretchen, of whose 

10—2 



148 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

dress, manners, deportment, and general 
appearance she had in the earlier part of 
the day conceived a favourable opinion, 
had, by some means " got out of her 
good books." True, she praised every- 
thing about the girl to Madame— every- 
thing, from her plaits to her sandals, but 
that was only done the better to depreciate 
me. It is not enough to state a person to 
be positively contemptible : the effect of 
detraction is always increased by erecting 
a visible standard of excellence in com- 
parison to which he is shown to be re- 
latively contemptible as well ; and for some 
reason best known to herself — not attri- 
butable to modesty, I am certain — Mrs. 
Isaac refrained from measuring me with 
my cousins. 

As for the girls, the absence of "beaux" 
— as Jemima comprehensively styled aU 
eligible men — had the effect of reducing 
them to absolute silence. Whilst parading 
about the streets they seemed to me gifted 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 149 

with a very Niagara of words. They talked 
loud and long, they uttered remarks for 
the benefit of the passers-by. They 
giggled and laughed till even their mother 
was occasionally roused to remind them 
" They were not in Fairport ;" but now 
a spirit of dumbness seemed to have taken 
possession of them. 

They looked at illustrated books, and 
stared wearily out of window, answering 
Gretchen in monosyllables, and scarcely 
brightening up under the influence of Herr 
Droigel's outrageous compliments. 

After we had sat thus for a httle while, 
my uncle went away to call upon some one 
who was not to be seen except after seven 
o'clock, and, relieved of his scrutiny, the 
two girls began to whisper together, break- 
out at intervals into smothered giggles, 
when the confidences exchanged grew 
specially amusing. 

" Bad, bad ! not well-bred," was Herr 
Droigel's commentary on them after our 



150 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

visitors were gone ; whereupon Madame an- 
swered, "I see it not; giiis will be giiis. 
It is not fit they should always conduct 
their manners like women grown up." 

From which remark I inferred Madame 
thought that some one conducted her 
manners improperly. 

Could it be me ? I was growing uneasy 
at an undefined change in her mode of 
speaking of and to me. For years she 
had been, if not a good mother to "her 
Annie," at least as good as it was in her 
power to be to any one. 

She never made me feel that in her 
affections I stood second to Gretchen — 
never allowed me to see I was less dear 
to her than her own child — never until that 
unlucky occasion when I expressed my 
opinions concerning Mrs. Isaac. 

What was there — what could there be 
so admirable and so super- excellent about 
that woman, to render one guilty of high 
treason if one disliked her ? 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 151 

" She is detestable." I said those words 
to myself as I looked at her talking to 
Madame. 

The judgment of my childhood remained 
unchanged after the lapse of all those 
years ; and her judgment of me remained 
unchanged also — I could feel it. 

I knew she hated me for my success — 
just as she would have hated me for failure 
— had I failed. She grudged me the 
friends sent to me by Heaven — the reputa- 
tion already achieved — the power of making 
money ; she hated me for Being, as I had 
said long before concerning Mrs. Daniel. 
In the scheme of creation I was in her 
opinion a supernumerary, and a pernicious 
super to boot. If I had been ragged, and 
begging my bread, I do not think she 
would have pitied me ; if I had been a 
Duchess, she would have thought and said 
the position had been obtained by cunning 
and deceit. 

So long as I was living, I could do nothing 



152 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

right in her eyes — even if I died, I felt 
certain I should die in some manner ob- 
jectionable to my aunt — and thus my 
thoughts ran on till interrupted by Mrs. 
Isaac suddenly inquiring — 

" Annie, are you not going to give us a 
song « 

Now this was one of the things I had 
determined I would not do. If she liked to 
take tickets for any concert at which I was 
to appear, and see me well dressed, and 
amongst other artistes, well and good ; she 
might hear my " wild notes " to her heart's 
content or discontent ; but sing to that 
woman and her girls in our drawing-room, 
in cold blood, I felt to be an impossibility. 

" You must excuse me," I therefore 
answered, " I cannot sing to-night." 

" Oh, that's all nonsense ; you are not a 
child now, pretending to be shy ; you are 
grown up and as tall as you ever will be, 
and singing is your business." 

" Only when I am paid for it," I 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 15S 

said, laughing to conceal my irritation. 
" Seriously, aunt, I should be most happy 
to do what you ask, but the fact is, I 
cannot sing without the gaslights and the 
clappmg. " 

" Well, I'm sure !" ejaculated Mrs. Isaac. 

" Admirable !" cried Herr Droigfel. He 
always accented the mi syllable, and so 
gave this word quite the effect of an ex- 
clamation. 

" Admirable ! You learn, child." 

"The remark is not original," I said, 
demurely, " I have only adapted it." 

" A timely adaptation is almost as useful 
and quite as amusing as an original re- 
mark," Gretchen observed. 

"But are you serious in saying you 
wiU not sing for me ?" asked Mrs. Isaac. 

" For ' will not,' read ' cannot,' " I rephed. 
"It is a fact that if I were to try and 
sing now, I should probably not be able to 
get out a note." 

" Well, yours must be a strange sort of 



154 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

voice," remarked my aunt. "Now, there are 
my girls — of course, I don't mean to say 
either of them is as clever as you (this was 
sarcastic), or has had the advantages 
showered upon you (this was envious), but 
I'll be bound you would never hear any ex- 
cuse like that you have just made come out 
of their Hps. They have been taught, poor 
dears ! to make the most of their small 
abilities, and I call that better and more 
Christian-like than to have great abilities 
and not to be able to use them half time — 
you remember the parable of the talents ?" 

"It is one frequently quoted — so fre- 
quently that one is in no danger of forget- 
tmg it," I rephed. As my aunt observed 
subsequently to Gretchen, " the loss of her 
voice does not seem to have affected her 
tongue." "Jemima," I added, "will you 
be Christian-Hke, and sing sometliing for 
us?" 

Jemima hesitated. 

" Come, come, don't you be turning shy. 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 155 

Miss!" exclaimed Mrs. Isaac, in high 
deHght at the prospect of hearing one of 
her young screech-owls hoot, " Hold up 
your head, and let Herr Droigel see what 
you can do. She wants no notes, thank 
you, Annie. My girls," she said, turning 
to the Professor, "can sing anything if 
they hear it once." 

" What a marvellous faculty !" exclaimed 
my master. 

" And they can learn a tune as easily by 
hearing it as anybody else can learn it from 
the music," pursued Mrs. Isaac, warming 
with her subject; "but that they get from 
me." 

" Ah, how good, how fine !" exclaimed 
Herr Droigel. " Whenever we meet genius, 
we must go back to first causes — the mother, 
it is she, it is from her " 

"I don't believe now Mr. Motfield could 
turn a tune if it was to save his life," con- 
tinued Mrs. Isaac, encouraged by the 
Professor's interest and admiration. 



166 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Yes, yes ; but is it not that as I say 
just now ? It is the mother — it is " 

But at this point the conversation was 
interrupted by Jemima Jane. Spite of 
her mother's statement, she seemed to 
prefer having music before her, and 
had selected a song, then not long pub- 
lished, which by reason of its extensive 
popularity soon found its way even to 
remote towns. The same words have, I 
think, been set to one if not more airs, but 
Jemima's interpretation stamped that 
special composition into my memory. 

I offered to accompany her, but my 
aunt promptly negatived that suggestion, 
evidently thinking I might cause her 
daughter to break down. Clearly there 
was no wickedness of which she did not 
secretly consider me capable. 

Miss Motfield began. She may have 
been able to play correctly without notes, 
but she could certamly not play correctly 
with them. 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 157 

Tum-ti-tum-ti, tum-ti-tum-ti, Tra la la, 
La la la la. Thus the symphony, and 
certainly every third note she played in the 
bass was wrong. I saw Droigel pull one 
agonized grimace, and then compose his 
features. 

After clearing her throat with a Httle 
suggestion of a cough, half apologetic, half 
assertive, she upHffced her voice : — 

" Meek and low-lee — pure and lio-lee." 

(The lee falling on a high note.) 

"Chief" — this word with great empha- 
sis and decision ; " among " — slurred, as 
being of no particular account ; " the 
blessed three" — staccato and rallentando. 

" Moving sad-ness " — sadness com- 
pletely dissevered, so as to enable the 
singer to deliver " ness "to us with all the 
force of her lungs — " iato glad-ness " — 
*' ness " again particularly prominent. 

" Heavenborn art thou — Cha-ri-tee." 



158 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

To describe the shock the first hiie gave 
me would be simply impossible. During the 
whole of my residence in London I had 
been with people who either sang not at all 
or who sang fauiy well. The Httle family 
gatherings which till lately constituted our 
wildest dissipation, were attended princi- 
pally by Droigel 's compatriots, and although 
I never took kindly either to the German 
language or to the German style of smging, 
still the music was exquisite, the time 
admirably kept, the harmony perfect. 

Of that fearful and horrible thing in- 
flicted upon a number of suffering guests 
by young ladies and middle-aged ladies, 
who say with a sweetly conscious smile and 
simper, mtended to be modest and attrac- 
tive, that they "smg a little" I had no 
experience. When I left school, I left 
behind me also the feeble wailings of British 
incompetency, and therefore while I ex- 
pected to find Jemima's performance bad, 
I was utterly unprepared for the depths 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 159 

of musical, or rather non-musical depravity 
which she sounded. 

I looked at Herr Droigel — Herr Droigel 
looked at me ; then we averted our eyes 
and kept them studiously out of range, 
while Jemima, serenely confident in her 
own strength, continued her song. 

Wliere she got to whilst informing us 

" Pity dwelleth in tliy bosom, 
Kindness reignetli in thy heart," 

I have literally no idea ; but she began to 
right herself at the picture of "Gentle 
thoughts alone can," and came safely to land 
on " Sway-hay thee," which was more than 
I expected, and triumphantly dehvered 
herself of 

" Judgment hath in thee no-ho pai't." 

After that it was plain sailing for one line, 

" Meek and low-lee, pure and ho-lee " 

being repeated, and the whole ending with 
a defiant flourish on the words — 



160 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Turning sadness into gladness, 
Heavenborn art thou, Cha-ri-tee ;" 

succeeded by a symphony consisting of a 
series of short runs laboriously executed that 
pulled up at intervals with tum-tum, and 
then recommenced for all the world like a 
baby trying to walk ; after which Miss Mot- 
field commenced the second verse — and — 
finished it. 

I do not know exactly what I said when 
all aglow with the consciousness of havuig 
executed a difficult task perfectly, and 
slightly out of breath with her exertions, 
Jemima rose from the music stool and left 
the astonished piano to recover its senses. 
I know I must have uttered some fib, and 
managed to speak it like truth, for both the 
performer and her mother looked de- 
lighted. 

Involuntarily Herr Droigel uttered some- 
thing like a paraphrase of that famous 
speech made by a bishop, who by it saved 
a routed audience from utter confusion — 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 161 

" The next time, Miss , you say you 

cannot sing — well, we shall know how to be- 
lieve you ." But before Jemima left the 

instrument he had recovered himself — 

"It is marvellous — wonderful," he said, 
rubbing his great hands together as if in an 
ecstasy. " Thank you, Miss Jemuna — so 
much. Has the other sister, Madame — 
your second charming daughter — a talent 
similar ?" 

Mrs. Isaac did not know — she beheved — 
that was she had been told — friends kindly 
said — but then friends might be pre- 
judiced — that a musical strain ran through 
all her children. 

" You should hear Tommy sing the 
'British Grenadiers,' " she added, addressing 
me. 

I said I should like very much to hear 
that inspiriting song sung by Tommy, and 
Herr Droigel hoped we might some day 
have that pleasure. It may be mentioned 
here that we had. 

VOL. III. 11 



162 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Meanwhile Jemima's sister was waiting 
in a fever of anxiety to be asked to emulate 
the doings of the last performer, and 
noticing this, Gretchen good-naturedly led 
her to the piano. 

" Do you prefer to accompany yourself?" 
I asked, notwithstanding my previous re- 
buff. 

" Yes, thank you," she repHed; " I always 
play my own accompaniments ;" which was 
satisfactory, as no blame could in that case 
be attributed to me. 

Without the shghtest prelude she com- 
menced, played a false note — another, and 
yet another. Crimson with mortification, 
she uttered an impatient " Ah !" and tried 
back, making this time a fair start. 

"One moment, please," cried Herr Droigel; 
*' ten thousand — ten million pardons, dear 
Miss — but what is dat T 

" 'Adelaide,'" I repHed, seeing that my 
cousin had not the faintest conception of 
what it might be he wanted to know. 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 163 

" All ! not that song," he exclaimed ; 
'' no, no, not dat. The fact is," he went 
on, turning towards Mrs. Isaac, " I cannot 
bear the painful thoughts it recalls. I have 
bitter memories — heart breaking — con- 
nected therewith. It wrings my soul, even 
that one bar. Dear, dear Miss, forgive, and 
favour us with something as channing but 
possessed of no recollections. Ah ! happy, 
happy sprmg time," he continued, looking 
at the two gMs, " that has no past — which 
is aU present and future. You forgive, dear 
Madame, you who perhaps can out of the 
depths of your own experience understand 
my feehngs a httle ;" and he stretched out 
his hand to Mrs. Isaac, who took it and 
would have been mightily puzzled what to 
do with it afterwards had not the Professor 
after a tender pressure withdrawn his 
fingers. 

The young lady, who was ambitious, 
substituted Schubert for Beethoven, and 
favoured us with Der Wanderer m EnglisL 

11—2 



164 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

It did not matter in the least. If we 
were to have it at all, the language could 
make no difference. She had a better 
voice and played more correctly than 
Jemima, but with all — ye gods ! 

When the evening was over and our 
visitors were gone, Herr Droigel came to me. 
" Sing, Annie, sing, for the love of 
Heaven — take that taste out of mine 
mouth — those sounds out of mine ears. 
Ach, mem Gott ! what has thy Droigel 
done — what sin has he committed that he 
should be so tortured V 

What Herr Droigel's god may have 
answered I know not ; certam it is, how- 
ever, the Professor was soon restored to 
his accustomed equanimity. 

As I have said, he had a special idol of 
his own whom he chose to address as a 
deity, but which was to me a perfectly 
unknown god. 

Perhaps it was a goddess, and her name 
Self-interest. 



A LITTLE MUSIC. 165 

I forgot to mention that whilst that 
little interlude concerning ' Adelaide ' was 
in progress, Gretchen left the room, 

" I thought I should have gone into 
hysterics," she said to me subsequently. 

So far as I was concerned, I wonder I 
did not. 

Said Madame before we retired to rest — 

" Dey did deii' best." 

" Mine Gott !" remarked her husband, 
once again addressing his personal deity, 
" if dat be deir best, vy do dey do at all ?" 

In my opinion a most pertinent question. 



^^CZ^fS^ 





CHAPTER YI. 

PREVISION. 

jFTER that evenino- I saw little more 

of my aunt or cousins during their 

stay in London, greatly to Gret- 

chen's and my contentment, and to the 

maintenance of peaceful relations between 

me and my kindred. 

On any more expeditions, whether with 
a view to business or amusement, Herr 
Droigel set his veto. 

" It vexed his very soul," so he expressed 
himself to Mrs. Isaac, "to have to assume 
a character despotic, not to say brutal, but 
he knew that bad health meant bad voice, 
that fatigue meant bad health. No, he must 
interdict ; Annie had still some more songs 
to sing in London — not many, fortunately, 



PREVISION. 167 



but enough — and after that she had to 
make her httle tours. Would — could 
dear Madame Motfield ever forgive the 
savage nature poor Droigel was forced to 
exhibit V 

To which dear Madame Motfield repHed, 
with a charming candour, that she not only 
forgave, but pitied. For her part, she 
thought he was a very kind gentleman, 
but sorely put upon ; and fiirther, she felt, 
as usual, very thankful to the Almighty it 
was no child of hers — no one, indeed, who 
could be called a blood-relation to her — 
who gave way to airs and graces, and made 
herself a trouble to everybody she had 
anything to do with. 

Which speech Herr Droigel acknowledged 
with a bow and smile of such complete 
innocence that it left my aunt in doubt 
whether he grasped her meaning. 

" Of course a foreigner cannot be ex- 
pected to understand like an English 
person," she remarked to her daughters, in 



168 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

a tone of self-conscious superiority. But 
Herr Droigel understood well enough. 

" She would have liked thee to be her 
drudge, is it not so, Annie T he asked ; to 
which I answered — 

" I think not. She would have liked 
me m no capacity." 

" Never mmd ; thy way Kes different," he 
said, to comfort me, as though I stood in 
need of comfort, 

"We certainly could not travel the 
same road long in company," I remarked, 
and then the matter dropped. Mrs, Isaac 
was not a tempting subject on which to 
enlarge. 

Within a day or two Jemima's futur 
appeared on the stage, and then there was 
much lamentation over the purchases which 
had been made so precipitately. The 
young man came up to town armed with 
letters of introduction to heads of depart- 
ments in City wholesale houses, and Mrs. 
Isaac's opinion was that he could have 



PREVISION. 169 



bought the weddmg-dress for one-half the 
money — -just one-half 

Being subsequently favoured with a 
private view of some of the articles obtained 
per favour of Mr. So-and-so, I am, however, 
inclined to think my aunt was slightly 
deceived in the City as well as at the West 
End, and that Jemima could have provided 
her trousseau at dear old Mrs. Nelson's, 
better and cheaper than she did in London. 
For one mercy I was thankful, however — we 
had not to go into the City with them. 
Herr Droigel refused his consent, as has 
been stated, whilst Gretchen flatly declined 
to make herself a party to such an ex- 
cursion. 

The labour those people went through ! 
They issued forth at unheard-of hours. They 
did the Tower, Greenwich Hospital, and 
St. Paul's in a forenoon. They would stay 
out all day in a blazing sun, and then 
finish up at the theatre at night. 

We did our best : we sent them tickets, 



170 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

got them orders, and made them presents — 
at least we made presents to Jemima Jane. 
Gretchen gave her a very pretty inlaid 
writing desk, Madame a card-case, I a 
brooch which for gorgeousness of setting 
and brilliancy of colour might have delighted 
the heart even of Mrs. Daniel Motfield ; 
whilst Herr Droigel presented her with a 
Church Service bound in velvet, the form 
of Solemnization of Matrimony in which he 
with ponderous jocularity recommended her 
to commence studying immediately. Where- 
upon the intended bridegroom remarked he 
believed she knew it off by heart already, 
for which pleasantry he was rewarded by 
a playful slap from his fiancee, and then the 
pair expressed a hope that when they were 
married and settled we would all come down 
and spend a few weeks with them, 

" Of course Fau-port is very different 
from London," added Mrs, Isaac ; " but it is 
considered healthy, and the gentry come 
from far and near to stay there for the 



PREVISION. 171 



benefit of the sea-bathing. We will all 
do our best to make you comfortable. We 
may not be fine folks, but we are true ;" 
which statement Herr Droigel received with 
appropriate comments, and having assured 
the dear lady of his devotion to her and 
respect for her husband and admiration for 
her two young lady daughters, we took our 
leave, the Professor hoping and trusting we 
might all soon have the felicity of renewing 
an acquaintance so charming. 

The reason for these adieux, which were 
exchanged somewhat unexpectedly, was 
a sudden arrangement that the party we 
were to travel with should start from 
London at an earlier date than that at first 
mentioned, in order to sing at three towns 
not originally included in our programme. 

To me the news was inexpressibly agree- 
able. Each morning when I awoke the 
idea of the same town holding me and Mrs. 
Isaac spread itself over my mind like a 
cloud. I could not sing so well because,. 



172 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

even although I knew how and where she 
was passmg the evening, I had a nervous 
dread of her being one of the audience. 
The pleasure of seeing my uncle was damped 
because it was necessary to see her also. 
Since the period when her intended arrival 
was first announced, we of the Droigel 
household seemed to be at sixes and sevens. 
Gretchen conducted herself like one who 
had something serious on her mmd, 
Madame was by turns distant and snap- 
pish, Herr Droigel walked much up and 
down the rooms, opening and shutting 
windows, whistHng at intervals, and hum- 
ming softly to himself 

The weather was, as I have already said, 
intensely warm, and that made us, I fancy, 
a little irritable. The prospect of getting 
away mto the country for a short time 
seemed delightful — that of bidding farewell 
to Mrs. Isaac more charming still. 

When Gretchen one day announced the 
tiduigs she had just heard, I was about 



PREVISION. 173 



to execute a fas seul in order faintly to 
express my pleasure, when she stopped my 
ecstasies. 

" Take it as quietly as you can," she 
said. " Make beheve you are not very 
glad — that you do not care greatly about the 
matter." 

" Why r I asked. 

" Never mind why. Do as I advise you, 
like a wise girl." 

I stood silent for a moment, then I 
said— 

" Gretchen, why is it we all seem so 
different now to what we were three months 
ago { 

" A difficulty has arisen," she answered. 
" I hope we shall have got over it before 
you return." 

"Is it — has it anything to do with money?" 
I inquired. She had talked so much to me 
one time and another concerning pecuniary 
difficulties, that I thought perhaps she was 
referring to some financial embarrassment. 



174 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" No, it is not money," she replied. " It 
is — in a word, Annie, I don't want to tell 
you what it is ; and perhaps I am wrong in 
my own notion altogether." 

Had she heard — did they suspect any- 
thing of my conversation with Mr. Sylvester ? 
As his words recurred to my mind, I felt 
my cheeks growing red, whilst I stammered 
out — 

" Have — have — I done anything ?" 

She looked at me curiously for a moment, 
then broke out laughing. 

"No, Annie, you have done nothing — 
nothing at all events to make your com- 
plexion so brilliant in a moment. Now 
put the whole affair on one side, and prepare 
to enjoy your trip. How I envy you ! 
These tours must be the pleasantest part of 
a smger's life." 

When the morning on which we were 
to start came, I felt mclined to echo with 
all my heart Gretchen's sentiments. Such 
a dehghtful noise and excitement pervaded 



PREVISION. 175 



the house. Our luggage was ready in the 
hall ; at the door stood three cabs ; in the 
drawmg-room all languages known at the 
Tower of Babel were bemg uttered at once. 
A slight breeze stirred the curtains ; over- 
head the sky was blue, and the sun shining 
through the freshly- watered streets ; trucks 
filled with bright flowers yielding an ex- 
quisite fragrance, were bemg wheeled 
through the streets. 

" How I wish you were coming with us !" 
I said to Gretchen. 

"So do I, but wishes will neither saddle 
nor shoe the mare," she answered. 

" Now," exclaimed the Hmigarian lady 
formerly mentioned, who had ah-eady taken 
upon herself the leadership of our party, 
" there is no time to lose, Madame Droigel ; 
you know you may safely trust your 
husband to my keeping, and the child — 
no harm shall happen to her. Droigel, 
take leave of your wife. Annie, you come 
with me. Good-bye, Gretchen." Then 



176 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

kiss — kiss — it seemed as if we were all 
kissing each other at once. A minute more 
and we were waving our handkerchiefs in 
answer to other handkerchiefs waving from 
the windows, till turning round a corner 
waving was no longer possible or expedient. 

" How happy you look," said Madame 
Szeredy, addressing me. "You will not 
wear so pleasant an expression a month 
hence when you find how we all can quarrel 
and how I can scold." 

It is not my purpose to give any detailed 
account of that tour, which, spite of daily 
bickerings and a perpetual war of differmg 
opinions, seemed to me then, and seems to 
me now, to have been one long bright holi- 
day. Charming and fresh as everything 
appeared to my imagining, it would be 
difficult, if not impossible, to give an idea 
either of its charm or freshness to the 
reader. The world was young for me then ; 
I had no responsibility or anxiety. If I 
did my part well, I was patted and petted ; 



PREVISION. 177 



if I did it ill, the reproaches poured upon 
me neither broke my bones nor hurt my 
heart. 

One hour I heard I was a creature too 
wicked, too debased for Madame Szeredy 
to be able to find words adequate to express 
my vileness ; the next I was a dear good 
girl whom it was a pleasure to instruct, who 
Bet an example of conscientious study to 
persons old enough to know better. 

After all, there can be no question but 
that maledictions uttered in a foreign 
tongue have a piquancy and assume a 
■degree of harmlessness impossible if spoken 
in one's own. I do not thmk I should have 
liked to be called a beast, a fool, a fiend, 
a, brute, a demon, an impostor, a devil, in 
English, and yet it never distiu'bed my 
equanimity to hear those expressions hurled 
at me in French, German, or Italian. 

When, however, any mishap occurred in 
which several persons were implicated, and 
mutual recriminations began, I used to put 

VOL. in. 12 



178 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

my fingers in my ears and sit in that atti- 
tude till the hurricane should have sub- 
sided. 

No scolding in any opera I have ever 
heard approached the absolute sublimity 
perpetually attained by our party. They 
all screamed out at once ; they declaimed, 
they gesticulated, they shrieked forth 
invectives, they shouted anathemas, they 
thrust clenched fists into each other's faces ; 
they stormed, and, looking like fiends, would 
flmg disdainful glances over their shoulders 
at a vanquished foe. 

Then almost in a moment the tempest 
lulled, and half an hour afterwards they 
would be laughing round the supper or 
breakfast table as though there were no 
such thing in this world as difference of 
opinion, with its concomitants, anger and 
rage and all uncharitableness. 

Looking back, I must say there is some- 
thing marvellous to me in the apparent 
innocence, in the thorough light-hearted- 



PREVISION. 179 



ness of the party in which I am now aware 
I was the only person ignorant of the 
world's wickedness, its pitfalls, its vice, its 
misery. Not a woman among those who 
seemed never to have existed for or 
thought about anything except their art 
and amusement, but had a story in her 
life— a story no one would desire to hear 
or tell ; whilst the experience of the men 
must have out-Heroded theirs ; and yet I 
declare, wide as has been my acquaintance 
with artistes, I have heard no word pass 
their lips at which Virtue need to hold up 
its hands in horrified surprise ; I have 
listened to nothing calculated to ofiend the 
taste or jar against morahty. 

I know now what the morality was of 
those with whom I travelled, I under- 
stand the pitiful story of sin and sorrow 
each could have recalled, or was enacting ; 
and yet no children out for a holiday could 
have been more innocent in their ways, 
their talk, their doings. 

12—2 



180 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Schoolboy tricks were rewarded by peals 
of laughter, practical jokes which at ten 
years of age I should have considered beneath 
my dignity were performed at the expense 
of each and all. I cannot wonder at staid 
Enghsh landlords and landladies being 
scandalized at our frivolity, and talking dis- 
paragingly about "them furriners." Some- 
times for the honour of our art I wished we 
could have adopted manners and a style 
of life more quiet and conventional, and 
ventured one day to bring out this notion 
for Herr Droigel's contemplation. 

"Yes — yes," he answered. " Good — very 
good ; but then my Annie must remember 
respectability means stupidity, dulness, stag- 
nation. We might get good voices out of 
those materials, but good singing never. 
Why, you already sing quite diJfferently to 
that which was your manner when you saw 
no Hfe but that of poor Droigel's home 
circle, when you heard nothing but 
humdrum, when your food was child's food, 



PREVISION. 181 



and your experience less than that of any 
schoolgirl. The artiste nature lives but 
in the sunbeams of excitement — it withers, 
it dies in the shade of a semi-stagnant 
existence." 

What he said was true, and at that 
moment, spite of my timid scruples, the life 
on which I had elected to enter seemed 
very fair. 

It appeared to my fancy like a broad 
smooth river, fringed with flowers whereon 
were gaily-painted pleasure barges filled 
with laughing, light-hearted passengers. 
Music floated over the waters, sweet sounds 
rose and fell, the voices of singing men 
and singing women keeping time and tune 
to the melody of the dipping oars. 

Out of some of those old story books at 
Lovedale I had gathered this allegory 
doubtless, but it came to me then with all 
the charm of novelty. 

This was what I had been longing for 
all my life ; there lay the happy river. 



182 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

already I saw the place reserved for me — a 
place of honour. I could make more than 
a success, leave something behind me more 
than the memory of a song that is sung. 
I had it in me to achieve Fame. I knew 
it, I^ felt it, and yet at the very moment 
I was longmg to set sail, an indefinable 
misgiving seemed to keep me tarrying on 
the brink. 

The latter part of that dim old story held 
most probably a moral, for there came to me 
a vision of a sea beyond the river, of dark, 
stormy waves, a murky sky, boats riven 
asunder, men striving, women shrieking. 
My sleep became uneasy, and I dreamt of 
that scene more than once. Sometimes I 
was gliding along easily, quietly, the cool 
water laving my hand, which hung over 
the gunwale of the boat ; but however my 
voyage began, it always ended in confusion 
and anguish. I clutched ropes attached to 
nothing, which came away in my fingers ; 
I held on to oars that slipped out of my 



PREVISION. 183 



feeble grasp ; I tried to cry aloud, but my 
voice fell back into my heart in a dead 
silence. In the distance I beheld my grand- 
mother, and strove to reach her, but the 
more I tried the more the raging billows 
bore me from her. 

I used to wake trembHng and afraid, but 
the bright hght of the summer morning 
restored my courage, and with the sun 
shining into my room, I have had the 
sweetest, most refreshing sleep — sleep which 
gave me new life and energy. 

Fact was I had no leisure through the 
day to remember my dreams, and at night I 
was too thed to fear them. We worked 
hard, all of us : we had to rehearse with the 
members of provincial societies ; the local 
musicians had to be drilled, and denounced, 
a,nd encouraged. 

Our greatest trials were with amateurs. 

" Accursed be the people who, knowing 
not how to play or sing, will persist in 
playing and singing," said Madame Szeredy, 



184 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

only she did not say it in English, " Oli I 
what a country is this, where, though they 
have eaten of the fruit, they cannot yet 
discern good from evil," 

" They think evil — good," explained Herr 
Droigel, " They understand not art ; they 
distrust it." 

" Strangers are generally distrusted," 
said Madame Szeredy, "and no greater 
stranger, in EngHsh eyes, could land herself 
on Albion's shores than Art," 

" That is right," exclaimed Herr Droigel. 
" I was once at a concert when Serhni 
sung. I had a ticket for the best place sent 
me by her, and I sat amongst a number 
of people the most respectable, of the most 
fashion. Well, the singing of all was divine, 
and yet the audience near me seemed cold 
until — would you believe it ? — that once 
famous Mrs. Edmonds, that once British 
favourite, now in heaven — that cow — that 
iceberg — that woman with the big eyes and 
a mouth which opened as a grave, came for- 



PREVISION. 185- 



ward, when she was greeted — ah I yes, she 
had a reception if you Hke. Said a com- 
fortable madame, who had, mistaking me 
for somebody with a position, done me so- 
great honour as to borrow my glass, ' Now 
we shall hear something pleasant. Give 
me singing like Mrs. Edmonds'. She is a 
good wife and mother, I am sure ; very 
different from those foreign women.' " 

" Madame," I made reply, " could you not 
see plenty of good wives and mothers without 
paying half-a-guinea for the pleasure ?" 

" Ah ! yes," she said ; " but it makes one 
feel so much safer when one knows that 
the private character of a singer is beyond 
suspicion." 

" Mein Gott ! " I exclaimed ; "it makes 
not me feel safe. I know Mrs. Edmonds 
will murder that poor innocent song — slay 
it as Herod did the children. Better would 
it be if she stayed at home with her babies. 
Wherefore my fine lady returned my glass, 
and turned her back on me." 



186 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Did she imagine then," I asked, " that 
Madame Serlini, because she sings so 
gloriously, could be other than a good wife 
and mother T 

Swiftly the Hungarian shot a glance at 
Droigel. 

" She knew nothing about Serlini," he 
answered. " How should she, wrapped up 
in her proof armour of pride and prejudice ? 
Serlini is the best of mothers ; tender, faith- 
ful, as she is beautiful." 




CHAPTER VII. 



MR. FLORENCE. 




E remained for nearly a week in 

Birmingham, giving two concerts to 

the inhabitants of that musical town, 

and receiving much kindness and attention 

during our stay. 

Whilst there we visited all the celebrated 
places within reach. With my own eyes 
I beheld Kenilworth, and was not dis- 
appointed ; we roamed through the old 
streets of Warwick — saw the Castle — sat 
down on the grass to contemplate Guy's 
Cliff at our leisure — and from the low wall 
beside the Avon looked upon the stream 
which had rippled past in Shakspeare's 
time just the same as it did in ours. 

Not, however, to emulate the descrip- 



188 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

tions contained in local and other guide- 
books do I chronicle these facts, but to 
introduce easily a circumstance which did 
not much impress me at the time, though 
it subsequently assumed more important 
proportions. 

At Birmingham Mr. Florence called on 
our party, and joined us in several of the 
excursions I have mentioned. 

Not frequently — half a dozen times, pos- 
sibly — I had seen him since the evening we 
first met at Sir Brooks's. We perhaps ex- 
changed a few words on each of these 
occasions, but acquaintanceship of any kind 
with him I had none. 

It was different, however, I soon found, 
with my companions. They knew him 
well — they had old associations with the 
same places and the same people — former 
memories concerning which they discoursed 
— over which they laughed. 

He had been staying with some family 
in the neighbourhood, but now he left his 



MR. FLORENCE. 189 

friends, whoever they might be, and taking 
up his abode in the town lived almost 
with us. 

Moreover, where we went he went also ; 
sometimes travelling in our company, 
sometimes preceding our party, sometimes 
following it ; but always appearing in a 
front seat at our concerts, and joining us 
at supper afterwards. 

We had only two more towns to visit 
after leaving Birmingham, and we gave but 
one concert in each. I am glad now to 
remember our party broke up before the 
first dread and trouble inevitable to one 
in my position assumed a definite shape. 

I like — I have always liked — to think 
of that a,lmost unclouded time of hohday- 
making. It gave me a kindly and fami- 
liar feeling towards artistes that I shall 
never lose, spite of all their sins and short- 
comings. 

During our tour I grew to regard them 
as beings not quite responsible for their ac- 



190 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

tions, and even now I often wonder if that 
impression be wrong — if the line and plnm- 
met which may accurately enough define the 
right and wrong of an ordinary human 
being can safely be considered to mdicate 
the mental, moral, and physical status of 
those who, having the genius of gods, re- 
tain the minds of cliildren and the uncon- 
trollable impulses of savages. 

Let me recall one last incident of our 
travel. All the singing was over, but we 
had agreed to spend another Sunday in 
company. Arriving the previous evening 
at a small seaport town, famous for the 
number of Dissenters it contained, and the 
beauty of the scenery surrounding it, we 
had planned to take a long drive on the 
following morning, to eat our luncheon 
on the hills, and return to a late dinner — 
Madame Szeredy, who knew the neigh- 
bourhood, agreeing to conduct us to a 
desirable point of view, and bargaining 
that she should be permitted to attend to 
the commissariat. 



MR. FLORENCE. 191 



With this arrangement we were all 
pleased. We knew her judgment in 
scenery to be as perfect as her judgment in 
music ; and her taste in eating and drinking 
to be, if that were possible, more perfect 
than that in either of the former. 

The love of English people for the 
pleasures of the table has almost passed 
into a proverb. 

To my thinking, the EngHsh as compared 
with foreigners are satisfied with simplicity 
itself in the way of food. They seem to 
me very anchorites when, remembering the 
ordinary bill of fare of a British gentleman, 
I recall the feasts ordered and eaten by the 
inhabitants of other countries. 

Certainly since our departure from Lon- 
don we had lived on the fat of the land. 
Madame Szeredy left nothing to chance — 
trusted " no future, howe'er pleasant," in 
the matter of food. A cook preceded us, 
as did also wine- — an arrangement being, 
I presume, made with the several landlords 
which reconciled them to the presence of 



192 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

the one and theii' guests' consumption of 
the latter. 

London, or Paris, or Vienna, or whichever 
great capital may be considered the head- 
quarters of good living, we took with us. 
We carried metropolitan ways, manners, 
conversation, into the country. We had 
foreign breakfasts, at which we drank 
claret and ate mutton chops, refreshing 
ourselves afterwards with rare fruits — 
peaches, grapes, nectarines, and so forth. 
Our dinners were generally light repasts 
— supposing we had dinner at all, which 
rarely happened during our tour, except 
on Sundays — but the suppers ! — pen and 
ink cannot depict the variety, quantity, 
and quality of these repasts. 

No wonder, considering the extravagance 
of oirr living, the gorgeousness of our 
•attire, the tempers in which we indulged, 
the marvellous petty and unnecessary 
meannesses of which we were guilty after 
having perhaps the moment before sense- 



MR. FLORENCE. 193 

lessly squandered pounds, the free manner 
in which we spoke of Heaven and the 
devil — words which, though rendered in a 
foreign tongue, were intelhgible enough to 
the understanding of inn-keeping respecta- 
bihty — that we were regarded wherever 
we tarried with a mixture of contempt, 
distrust, and dishke, which gave rise to 
wonderful contretemps, and tended in no 
small degree to heighten the amusement 
and excitement of our tom\ 

It has struck me since, we were aU of us 
much happier and more agreeable on the 
days when work had to be attended to in 
the evening than when left utterly to our 
own resources. 

We delighted in the idea of havmg 
nothing to do ; but when the time came 
in which nothing was to be done, we 
either spent it in gambhng or quar- 
relling. 

Never was Madame Szeredy's tongue so 
effective in vituperation or complaint as 

VOL. III. 13 



194 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

on those rare occasions when we were 
neither travelhng, nor rehearsing, nor 
singing. 

Judging from our party, I should imagine 
the whole of Satan's existence must be 
passed in finding evil words, works, and 
pastimes for idle artistes. 

Were the weather too warm to go out, 
we hated each other after the first half- 
hour of enforced companionship. Was it 
wet, the result was similar, only we hated 
each other worse. We were children, and 
we conducted ourselves like cliildren. The 
only unhappy part of the matter was, that 
outsiders regarded us as reasonable and 
responsible beings, and were horrified in con- 
sequence by our sins of omission and com- 
mission. 

It was late on Saturday afternoon when 
we — the "we" including Mr. Florence — ar- 
rived at our destination. For many miles 
that gentleman had been plaguing Madame 
Szeredy with an account of the reception 



MR. FLORENCE, 195 

we might expect, the entertainment we 
should receive. 

Home-made bread, tea, and ham and 
eggs^ — the ham salt as brine and the eggs 
stale — were, he declared, the only eatables 
for which we could hope. 

" Upon liis sacred honour," he said, 
once when travelling in that part of the 
country he had been obliged to subsist for 
a week on fat bacon, stale bread, pure 
water, and the contents of a pocket flask. 

"' You talk without knowledge, you know 
not how to manage," Madame repHed ; " you 
men are all alike, cowards to every one but 
your wives — content with a crust out of 
your own homes. Bah ! I have been here 
too. I sent the provender forward," 

" They will not let you cook it, though," 
he persisted. " To-day is in the speech of 
the people of this locaHty, ' the prepara- 
tion for the Sabbath,' and to-morrow is the 
Sabbath itself" 

" Well, and what of that ?" 

13—2 



196 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" The landlord, you will find, objects to 
Sabbath " 

'* Pah I" exclaimed Madame, with an 
accent of intense disgust. "I tell you we 
shall dine this evening, and to-morrow we 
shall have our picnic." 

The first part of her statement proved 
correct. Having in view, perhaps, a design 
of spoihng the Egyptians, the landlord con- 
sented to put his scruples aside, and allow 
his house to be turned upside down even 
on a Saturday evening ; but horses for the 
next day he could not or would not 
undertake to provide. 

This difiiculty had, however, been over- 
come by Madame 's indefatigable envoy. 
Subject of course to her approval, he 
had secured a boat owned by one of 
the few mhabitants of the place who was 
not a Methodist — who was not indeed, in 
religious matters, of any persuasion — and it 
was possible to proceed to the spot selected 
as well by water as by land. He, the 



MR. FLORENCE. 197 

speaker, would pack the hampers in the 
morning should the weather prove fine, 
but he had delayed doing so as several 
persons supposed to be learned in such 
matters had informed him if the wind 
chopped round there would be rain. 

" Folly," exclaimed Madame ; " rain with 
such a sky as that '"and she swept her hand 
with a theatrical gesture towards the 
horizon, where, indeed, all manner of glorious 
tints were blended and blazing together. 

After which remark of course further 
expostulation was useless, and Gregoire 
withdrew accordingly. Nevertheless I have 
reason to know he deferred packing the 
hampers until morning, and he did not pack 
them then. 

What a lovely place that was in which 
Madame Szeredy had elected to pitch our 
tent ! The best apartment had of course 
been engaged for us, and from the windows 
of the drawing-room the view was exqui- 
site. A broad gravel walk, then a lawn 



198 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

ill which beds filled with flowers were cut, 
then far below the sea, lying calm and 
peaceful in the evening light. 

Through the open casement came the 
scent of hehotrope, jasmme, and some 
late blooming mignonette. To the left lay 
the picturesque town stragglmg down a 
steep declivity almost to the shore, and to 
the right green hills sloiDed away into the 
sea, whilst dimly in the distance I could 
see that headland on the top of which it 
was proposed we should have luncheon on 
the morrow. 

Before I had taken in every detail of the 
scene, Mr. Florence entered the room. 
Without turning my head I knew it was 
he by a particular scent he aifected, wliich 
seemed a compound of violets, Cape, jas- 
mine, and orange flowers. I dishked the 
perfume in those days. I detest the re- 
membrance of it in these. 

" Admiring the view, Miss Trenet T he 
began. 



MR. FLORENCE. 199 

" Yes," I answered. My share of our 
few conversations had hitherto been con- 
fined almost entirely to monosyllables. 

" You are fond of the sea T 

"Very." 

" Should you care to make a long 
voyage ?" 

" I do not know whether I should prove 
a good sailor." 

" Is that the reason you object to the 
proposed excursion to-morrow T 

" I have never objected to it," was my 
reply. 

" Pardon me — I employed a wrong word. 
You are not quite satisfied, you disapprove ; 
is not that so ?" 

" When I was young I certainly did not 
go to picnics on Sunday, if that is what you 
mean," I repHed. 

" Consequently now you are old," said 
Mr. Florence, smiling, " you do not think 
it quite right to go to picnics on Sunday — 
that is what you mean ?" 



200 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" I suppose it is," I agreed. 

" Then shall we refrain from picnics to- 
morrow and attend religions worship for the 
benefit of ourselves and those of our party 
who do not object to having the welfare 
of their souls attended to vicariously ? How 
should you like that T 

" I should not like it at all," I said, with 
a rude frankness for which next moment I 
could have beaten myself 

Mr. Florence laughed. " Great as you 
imply your age to be," he remarked, " you 
have manaofed to retain one charminof 
characteristic of youth — candour," 

" You mistake. I did not exactly mean 
what my words implied. What I should 
have said, had I stopped to think, was that 
whatever my feelings might be, I should not 
like to set myself up as better than people 
older and wiser than I am." 

" Neatly turned. Miss Trenet, and the 
truth, I doubt not ; but scarcely the whole 
truth — rather a Jesuitical reply for so 



MR. FLORENCE. 201 

transparent and straitlaced a little lady. 
I preferred, by way of a social novelty, 
your first answer," 

I took no notice of this speech, but 
turned towards the window to look out 
at the view again. 

"It strikes me," continued Mr. Florence, 
" that you and I do not get on so well to- 
gether as we should, considering the interest 
with which I have watched your progress 
— the pleasure I felt when I knew your 
success was assured. The first time I 
began to think about you was — when do 
you imagine V 

"I cannot imagine." 

" Perhaps you remember an afternoon, 
long ago, when Herr Droigel, after being at 
immense pains to make himself presentable 
to a fancied stranger, appeared at sound of 
my voice in Well, we will not parti- 
cularize. " 

" I remember," I rephed. 

" And you and his daughter, hearing my 



202 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

greeting, received it with peals of such 
genuine laughter that I longed to see you 
both." 

I bowed my head. What could I say in 
answer ? 

" Herr Droigel explained, ' There goes 
my babies : they must have their laugh at 
the fat papa.' Being aware he had only 
one daughter, whom I have never seen 
since she was a gawky, slipshod, untidy 
child, with hair the colour of tow, and 
immense light blue eyes, I concluded the 
second baby must be a new pupil. Wlio 
that pupil was I learned afterwards from 
Miss Cleeves." 

" What ! do you know Miss Cleeves V I 
inquu-ed, interested for the first time in his 
conversation. 

"Yes." He said this with the manner 
of one who should imply, " I know every 
one who can be called a ' person. ' " 
" She talked to me about Herr Droigel's 
latest acquisition. She told me how she 



MR. FLORENCE. 203 

had first met you, informed me of all the 
particulars connected with your leaving 
Lovedale, and told me what I then con- 
sidered an exaggeration — that you were 
possessed of a marvellous voice." 

" Miss Cleeves means to be very kind," 
I murmured — feeling at once gratified and 
ashamed — ashamed of the rattlebrain way 
in which I knew she must have spoken 
of me to him : gratified, if the truth must 
be told, at the compliment impHed in Mr. 
Florence's words. 

I did not like the man. Intuitively I 
distrusted, instinctively I feared him ; 
and yet it did please me to think he 
admired my singing — thought it really and 
truly good. 

I had not been much accustomed to ad- 
miration of any kind, and I was young, and 
I was a woman ! 

"You are mistaken, I fancy," he repHed. 
" I do not think Miss Cleeves means to be 
anything, but she is a great many things by 



204 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

turns as the fancy seizes her. She is cer- 
tainly one of the most extraordinary young 
ladies it has ever been my fortune to en- 
counter." 

" She is very clever," I remarked. 

" In what wayT' he asked. " She is 
very odd, but I must say it never occurred 
to me to think she was clever. Clever 
people achieve success, or reputation, or 
money. Miss Cleeves will never achieve 
any one of the three. " 

I was going to tell him she might have 
had the last, but a thought of Mr. Sylvester 
and " our ladies" prevented me. 

" Pity her cousin would not marry her," 
he resumed, findmg I made no comment. 

" It was the other way," I said, vdth a 
hurry I regretted afterwards. 

" Was it ? Very likely. Pity she would 
not marry her cousin ; might have saved 
her from much trouble to come." 

" Do you thmk there is trouble before 
her, then V 



MR. FLORENCE. 205 

" I can scarcely imagine Miss Cleeves 
sailing through untroubled waters," he 
answered. " By- the -bye, have you seen 
her book ?" 

" No ; is it published ?" 

"Yes, and — but I will not spoil its in- 
terest in your eyes ; when you return to 
London you shall find the volumes await- 
ing your perusal. We are speaking of Miss 
Cleeves' literary effort," he added, address- 
ing Herr Droigel, who entered the apart- 
ment at this moment. 

" All ! that Miss adorable " began the 

Professor ; but Mr. Florence cut across his 
sentence with — 

" Come, Droigel, you never thought her 
adorable — of that I am certain." 

"There is one thing adorable," added 
Madame Szeredy, who now appeared in a 
demi-toilette which caused our landlady, 
who met her on the stairs, to uplift her 
hands and marvel whether the like was 
ever seen, what the world was coming to. 



206 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

how long the Lord would keep silence, and 
the like — " eating after fasting. Mr. Flo- 
rence, dinner is ready, and I do not intend 
to wait another second for any one." 

Takmg which hint, Mr. Florence offered 
his arm, and she went " like any lady " — I 
quote the words of our landlord — " linked 
with an Honourable gentleman," to the 
head of the table. 

Ah, me ! when I looked back to the old 
days at Lovedale, I often asked, " Can this 
be me ? Am I the Annie of that humble 
home ?" And yet all through the whole 
affair I never felt, not once, the drama a 
reahty, I never lost the feelmg we were 
all — spite of our dress, our airs, our splen- 
did rooms, our tables glittermg with plate, 
our self-possessed manners, our magnificent 
personal assertion — make-beheves, crea- 
tures playuig at bemg fhie ladies and fine 
gentlemen. To me we were masquers : all 
the time I kept stupidly marveUmg when 
we should throw aside oui- disguises, and 



MR. FLORENCE. 207 

appear before the world in the character of 
ordinary mortals once again. 

Sometimes when I have seen my children 
play at Kings-and-Queens, a strange sensa- 
tion came over me. Were the kmg and 
queen, the princes and the princesses, one 
atom less real, though, thank God ! so much 
less harmless, than that little game at 
wliich, enacted by grown-up people, I once 
assisted % Mr. Florence, accustomed to the 
ways and manners of the Upper Ten, must, 
I tliink, have found the exaggeration of 
dress, manners, requirements, and personal 
indulgence he met with amongst us toilers 
for our daily bread intensely amusing. If 
he had rested satisfied with being amused, 
I should not have resented the feehng ; but 
he sneered at the company with which he 
elected to mix — I could see the scoffing 
light m his eyes, hear the irony in his 
voice, detect the exaggerated deference he 
sometimes paid to the members of our 
party. Day by day I had felt an uneasi- 



208 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

ness in his presence impossible to de- 
fine. 

He despised us, I determined at length. 
Why, on that Saturday night I could not 
form the famtest idea, and for long I lay 
awake trying to discover the reason. 

Before I slept — the wind, as prophesied, 
had choj)ped round — driving rain beat 
against my windows ; I could hear the 
sullen roar of the sea gradually lashing 
itself into fary over the waste of waters. 
I arose and looked out. The night was 
dark and stormy, but I could see the 
turbulent, restless waters, weary of calm, 
tossmg hither and thither, deep calling 
to deep, and moaning mournfully for a 
reply. 

When at length I fell asleep, it was with 
the cries of storm-demons m my ears, the 
mutterings of the great waters fiiidhig an 
echo in my heart. 

What wonder, then, that I dreamed of 
that grey old church near the greyer sea ? 



MR. FLORENCE. 209 

There one monument stood out in memory 
before all the others, and I read again as if 
with my bodily sight the words graven on 
the time-stained marble, ending with that 
sentence I had conned over and over while 
sitting in my uncle's pew, " The Lord on 
high is mightier than the sound of many 
waters." 

When I awoke, which I did very early, 
the rain was pouring down as though a 
second deluge had come upon the earth. 

It was of no use thinking of gettmg 
up or picnicing on such a morning, so I 
turned on my pillow and fell asleep again. 

With what dreary yawns the members of 
our party greeted each other. 

Madame Szeredy openly anathematized 
the weather. Notwithstanding Herr Droi- 
gel's entreaties that she would reserve her 
indignation till the Christian waiter lefb 
the room, Madame used language con- 
cerning the rain, the climate, the besotted 
English fools who dwelt under such a sky, 

VOL. III. 14 



210 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

unbefitting Sunday, or indeed any day^ 
and the remainder followed suit. All 
except Herr Droigel and Mr. Florence, 
the former of whom besought Madame by 
his gods, and all other gods known even 
by reputation to liimself or friends, to 
retain the calmness of her mind, whilst 
the latter, after maintaining a long and 
discreet silence, said — 

" Do you not think, Madame, considering 
you have the misfortune to find yourself 
in this island, cursed by Heaven and 
foreigners, that it might be as well to make 
the best of a sad trouble, and whilst the 
rain pours eat your breakfast T 

Madame and her guests ate breakfast, 
but were not appeased. They rang for the 
landlord — he was at chapel ; the land- 
lady — she was at chapel. 

" Bring up candles !" screamed Madame, 
to the astonished waiter, " all you have in 
the house. Pull down the blinds and shut 
out this " (here she rapped out a 



MR. FLORENCE. 211 

full-bodied English oath which might have 
dehghted the ears of Queen Elizabeth) 
" sea !" 

Then they produced cards and played, 
till I, growing sick and tired of the con- 
fusion of languages, the Babel of tongues, 
the quarrelling, the laughing, the gambling, 
crept away from the sofa from which I had 
enacted the part of an onlooker, crept 
away to my own room sad at heart — oh ! 
sadder than words can tell. 

Then I took a singular resolution for one 
in my position — I would go to church. 

We had not breakfasted till midday, 
and it was quite late in the evening, nearly 
six o'clock by this time. Though there was 
stiU a driving rain, the violence of the storm 
had subsided, and wrapping a thick shawl 
about me, and putting on a bonnet and 
veil, I flattered myself I might — spite of 
being a stranger — pass through the streets 
without exciting observation. In my dark, 
quiet dress I sHpped out of the hotel, and 

14—2 



212 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

made my way towards a cluirch I had 
noticed as we drove along the previous 
evening. 

Alas ! it was closed. There was no 
service after that in the afternoon, an old 
woman living in a cottage hard by told me. 

" I must hear something good to-day," 
I thought (Lovedale, its peace, and its 
lessons had stood out in strong contrast 
with my present hfe during the whole of 
the afternoon) ; and so thinking, I walked 
into the first place of worship I reached, 
and was accommodated with a seat. 

The place was full. No doubt that 
to many persons was the road to heaven. 
I hope and trust so ; but to me, in my then 
state of mind, the sei-vice seemed inexpres- 
sibly wearisome. 

Fiuther, when I found om* card-playing 
touched upon, when I heard our party 
held up as samples of the work of Satan, 
when I understood we were regarded as 
non-repentant Magdalenes — as women who 



MR. FLORENCE. 213 

tired their hair and wore pillows under 
their arms— as Jezebels, such as she who 
was eaten by dogs — as those women who 
led even the wisest man who ever lived 
into evil courses, my heart sank within 
me. But that seemed nothmg to being 
prayed for. 

" Lord, grant," entreated the minister, 
" that they may not pass from this world 
into eternity clad in gewgaws and ribbons 
and finery." 

" Amen," shouted the congregation. 
" Lord, that it may please Thee these poor 
benighted creatures may be converted, and, 
seeing the error of their ways, appear be- 
fore Thy judgment-seat naked and yet not 
ashamed, stripped of their silks and satins, 
their lace and their feathers, and clothed 
only in the robes of righteousness given out 
to thy saints." 

Angry, disgusted, and disappointed, I 
could endure no more. Groping my way 
like one blind, I felt my way into the open 



214 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

air — no great distance, happily — and re- 
vived by the cool night air, hurried back 
to the hotel. 

I did not re-enter the drawing-room, but 
hurrying upstairs, undressed and threw 
myself on the bed. 

" Where in the world have you been ?" 
said Madame Szeredy, coming mto the 
room a few minutes after, " What is the 
matter, child ?" 

" I am ill," I said. " You are very kind ; 
but please leave me alone." 




CHAPTER VIII 



AN UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR. 




OETUNATELY future events testi- 
fied to the truth of my statement. 
Next day I was unable to leave my 
room, which signified the less as the rain 
continued to pour down with greater in- 
tensity, were that possible, than had been 
the case on the preceding morning. Many 
visitors came to visit me ; in a variety of 
tongues ennuyed artistes compassionated 
my state, smothering fearful yawns the 
while. Towards the evening I essayed to 
sleep, achieving the result people who are 
mentally overwrought generally accom- 
pHsh — that of living in slumber, a dream- 
life infinitely more wearing and fearful than 
anythmg reality can present. 



216 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Then suddenly I awoke, with my eyes 
still closed, to the consciousness that there 
were people in the room — people talking 
in whispers. One of them was the land- 
lady. 

What had gone before it is impossible tO' 
say. This is what I heard. 

" She don't look much more nor a child, 
does she, Margaret V 

" No, ma'am ; and yet Mr. Gregory says 
she can sing as well or better than any of 
them." 

" She looks innocent enough, lyuig 
there. Too innocent to have begun such a 
life." 

" I don't think, ma'am, there is any 
harm in her, though she is a play-actor." 

" I hope no harm may be coming to her 
then," was the reply. " I haven't much 
opinion of that gentleman who is travelling 
with them. He has been here before ;" and 
then the whispers died away as the pair 
left my bedside. 



AN UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR. 217 

Yes ; I had always feJt intuitively there 
must be thorns among the roses of my life, 
and lo ! they were pricking desperately 
already. 

The following morning was bright enough 
for the expedition proposed by Madame 
Szeredy ; but it was apparent to that lady's, 
practised eyes that it would be useless to 
ask me to join the party. 

" You shall not get up until mid-day," 
she said, with kindly determination ; " but 
then if you are good and better you may 
come down and bid our friends farewell : 
they leave this evening." 

" So our pleasant party is to be broken 
up '?" I said, with tears in my eyes. 

" Yes, dear. Have you found it 
pleasant?" 

" Yes, indeed," I answered. " I like you 
all so much." 

" Spite of scolding and card-playing T 

" Spite of anjrthing — everything," was. 
my reply. 



218 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

"My child, I love you," she answered. 
" I wish I were not Szeredy, but a fairy 
who could give you ten thousand a year and 
place you where I should like to see you." 

She touched my lips and was gone. All ! 
Szeredy, spite of all I know now, I can 
safely say you hold a place in my heart a 
better woman would fail to occupy. 

And why? the attentive and courteous 
reader asks, curiously. 

I cannot say why. All I know is that 
virtuous women may often be intensely 
unlovable, and to this hour, Szeredy — old, 
worn, sceptical, cynical — is interesting to 
me. 

The day wore on, and the party returned. 
Before they departed we dined. That was, 
I think, the saddest dinner of my life. Let 
them be what they might, we had been 
happy together, and I kissed all the women, 
and all the men kissed my hand in token of 
affectionate trust and remembrance. 

I have seen somewhat of good society 



AN UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR. 219 

since then. I have mixed with people who 
hold their heads high enough, and have 
visited and been visited by families 
chronicled amongst the ehte of the land ; 
and yet were the tide of fortune to ebb 
and leave me stranded upon the shore 
of poverty, I would rather ask help — I 
should feel more certain of obtaining it — 
from one of those Bohemians whose 
existence the great world simply tolerates 
because they contribute to its amusement 
and excitement. Perhaps— who amongst 
us can tell '? — when the Great Assize comes 
to be held, when the nations are had up 
for judgment, it may chance that impulse 
will reckon for something both in the way 
of vindication and excuse — that the open 
hand, the generous heart will be considered 
as well as frail purposes, weak principles — 
morality strong only in opposition to the 
generally conceived opinions of its use. 

I am not a fair critic of the dwellers in 
this modern Alsatia ; stHl I know the world 



220 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

would be a dull place but for the antics cut 
by those denizens of it whom Respectability 
strokes with one hand and slaps with the 
other. 

They were gone, and a pleasant chapter 
ended with them. There remained Madame 
Szeredy, Mr. Florence, Herr Droigel, my- 
self. It was Herr Droigel's intention to 
take a cottage in the neighbourhood, 
where Madame Droigel and Gretchen could 
join us. It was Madame Szeredy 's inten- 
tion to pass her short holiday with us. This 
I learned as I lay one evening on a couch 
drawn near an open mndow overlooking 
that walk mentioned as interveninof be- 
tween the hotel and the grass-plot cut up 
into beds which were filled with flowers. 

I had been out on the sands, and feehng 
weary when I returned in the twdlight, 
entered the empty drawing-room, and 
taking ofi* my bonnet, lay down to rest ere 
proceeding up another flight of stairs. 

Through the evening air came the fra- 



AN UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR. 221 

grance of flowers, and mingling with it the 
scent of a cigar — it was not being smoked 
by Mr. Florence, I knew, as he had gone to 
visit some friends. 

Soon I heard Herr Droigel's voice, and 
understood he was the owner of the cigar. 
He spoke in German, eagerly and rapidly, 
but it did not occur to me he was talking 
secrets. Had it done so, I should have 
moved before I understood the conversation 
referred to me. When I comprehended I 
was the subject discussed, no feeling of 
honour arose to urge that the role of an 
eavesdropper was, to say the least of it, 
scarcely creditable. There are various 
axioms on this matter, but they cannot 
concern me now. I heard first carelessly, 
then I listened eagerly, and — contrary to 
the proverb — did not hear much ill of my- 
self This was the dialogue, carried on (as 
before explained) in German — 

" And she can do it, thou thinkest — she 
is capable ?" 



222 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Do it % of course she can. Capable ! 
I repeat, Droigel, clever as we all know 
thee to be, thou art mistaken about her. 
Those great women impose on men ; they 
accept bulk in lieu of brains. Our little 
maiden shall act to perfection yet, if you 
leave her to me." 

" But these ailments — these headaches — 
these reactions, I like them not at all." 

"You must take the girl as God made 
her, and your own absurd poHcy has fos- 
tered her. She has not a Southern phy- 
sique, she has not Northern apathy ; she is 
sensitive, artistic, affectionate, religious — 
Heavens ! what a series of inconsistent 
qualities. You brought her up like a hot- 
house plant, and now when you call upon 
her to endure cold and hardship she suc- 
cumbs at mtervals — - at rare intervals, 
however." 

" She is a good girl, and I love her," 

"Droigel, if you take my advice you 
will drop that absurd figure of speech ; you 



AN UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR. 223 

do not love her, you never loved anything 
— not even Madame Droigel — exceptmg 
yourself. Love is not a feehng which ever 
could find entrance into your fat soul. But 
others may be unaware of the fact and 
attach importance to words in which there 
is really no meaning." 

" But, dearest Madame " 

"Psha! do not 'dearest' me. I am 
not blmd : I know all about your present 
perplexity ; I know your wife is jealous 
— that she will grow more jealous day by 
day ; that you are at your wits' end to 
thuik what to do with your prize. Don't 
try to deceive a woman who has seen a 
good deal of what the world is good enough 
to offer in the way of self-deception, 
roguery, and villany. If you could keep 
your baby unmarried, you would do so ; as 
you cannot, you favour Mr. Florence's 
suit." 

" I favour Mm ! I like it not," exclaimed 
Herr Droigel. 



U24 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Of that I am quite sure, but you are 
aware Mr. Florence is no contemptible 
match. Let his antecedents be what they 
may, he seems inclined to turn over a fresh 
leaf now. Further, he is m love — suffi- 
ciently in love to offer marriage." 

" I should have liked to hear him offer 
anything else !" hissed Herr Droigel. 

" And," continued Madame Szeredy, " he 
is sufficiently politic to make no terms. You 
have thought over the matter, weighed it, 
looked at it from every point of view, and 
you say to youi'self in conclusion — it is not 
bad. Annie will have a protector ; she 
will still earn money for you ; she will be 
an ever-present advertisement, the cause 
of many pupils, many songs, many good 
bargains in the future. It is a pity the 
man is old enough to be her father, and 
many years to spare ; that he has been not 
merely a libertine, but a scoundrel. But 
all mundane advantages have some draw- 
back ; and for a small person like our httle 



AN UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR. 225 

friend, without fortune, family, friends, 
remarkable beauty — "svithout anything in- 
deed except her own self— which, were I 
a man, I should fall in love with and marry 
to-morrow, — ^for such a little insignificant 
chit, I say, to secure so great a prize, is 
marvellous. We know some one beside 
whom Annie at once becomes a dwarf — 
mentally and physically — who would have 
cut off her right hand to w^in that regard 
of which this child seems absolutely uncon- 
scious." 

" She is unconscious," said Herr Droi- 
gel ; " there can exist no ' seem' with 
Annie. " 

" Droigel, if I did not know you so well, I 
should really think you were smitten with 

this duodecimo edition of humanity " 

began Madame. 

" Do not jest," interrupted the Professor ; 
" I have enough to bear as it is, merely 
because I cannot cast out from my heart 
and home into this wilderness of a w^orld 

VOL. HI. 15 



226 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

the child so guileless, who has neither father, 
brother, husband, nor son." 

" For mercy's sake don't be ridiculous," 
exclaimed Madame Szeredy. " There is a 
man anxious to marry her — why senti- 
mentahze ? — She had better marry him and 
soon, if you want to keep her in the profes- 
sion. My belief is, and, mark you, unless this 
affair be brought to a point speedily these 
words may come true — once this girl under- 
stands what our life really is, what we 
really are, she will turn from her pro- 
fession in disgust ; you wiU have seen the 
last sovereign Miss Trenet's voice will ever 
bring you in. I am mistaken if, remaining 
single, she would not choose to become a 
fToverness rather than remain before the 
public. Married, of course her husband 
must decide for, and if need be defend her." 

" But there have been women," cried 
Herr Droigel, " mnocent and guileless as 
she " 

" Have there T interrupted Madame 



AN UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR. 227 



Szeredy ; " will you kindly point them 
out ? There have been women — innocent 
women, guUeless, deceived, heart-broken ; 
there have been other innocent women 
deceived who lived to grow wicked and 
reckless. There have been women who 
cared for nothing on earth and in heaven 
but money, and who being able to get 
money respectably, kept respectable, and 
no thanks to them for it. But this child, 
what is she ? Like unto none of them — 
a poor wild bird who has for her own 
trouble ventured near the haunts of men. 
Would we could undo the past, and send 
her speeding back to that cottage by the 
Love of which I know she is always think- 
ing when she sings, better than Serlini 
herself, 'Home, Sweet, Sweet Home.'" 
And Madame in the twiHght trilled forth 
that melody which never seems to pall on 
the ear of either foreigner or Enghshman. 

How the conversation continued after 
that I do not know. I had heard enough, 

15—2 



228 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

though not, perhaps, too much, and fearful 
of detection, I caught up my bonnet and 
hurried to my own room. 

Arrived there, I rang the belL 

" I am not so well, Margaret," I said 
to the chambermaid who answered my 
summons. " Will you tell Herr Droigel 
I shall not come down ao^ain this evening;?'^ 

Half an hour subsequently Madame 
Szeredy stood beside me. 

" Be frank, dear one," she began. " You 
may confide fully in me. This malady of 
yours, it is more mental than physical. 
What caused the beg-innino- — what reason 
exists for the continuance of an illness so 
sudden and complete ? When you were 
working hard you never complained. Now 
you are idle, your head throbs and your 
pulse flutters. Who has vexed you — what 
is troubling you ? If you want a friend to 
speak to, talk to me." 

" Thank you, Madame," I answered ; 
" but I do not know why I am ill, unless I 



AN UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR. 229 

have not strength enough to lead a Hfe of 
so much excitement. I have been looking 
back and thinking a great deal about my- 
self lately ; and I do not think I was in- 
tended by nature for an artiste. Now I 
am living in it I feel like a stranger in this 
land, full of bustle and pleasure ; but I shall 
become acclimatized in time. Assure Herr 
Droigel he need not be afraid of my break- 
ing down now." 

She had to be satisfied with this ex- 
planation, though it was evident she came 
expecting a different confidence. But even 
had she been my friend, tried and trusted, 
how could I have spoken to her about my 
troubles % When I strove to put the doubts 
which perplexed — the fears which haunted 
me into words, even for my own satisfaction, 
I failed to make out an intelligible case. 

As I grew older I could surely decide 
for myself whether I should follow the path 
trodden by others or not. If Mr. Florence 
really wanted to marry me, I supposed I 



230 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

need not accept him unless I chose. As to 
the fresh trial of my powers to which Herr 
Droigel had alluded, I guessed what it was 
to be, and I felt no objection to make the 
attempt. Concerning Madame's jealousy, the 
idea was too ridiculous to cause me serious 
anxiety. Thus I argued to myself; thus 
I tried to reason away the various bugbears 
which stood threatening me. But let me 
do what I would, I could not overcome the 
nervous terror with which I regarded my 
position. There seemed no firm ground 
anywhere on w^hich I could trust my foot. 
What were those people amongst whom my 
future lot was to be cast? What sort of 
lives had they led ? Why did Mr. Florence 
treat the whole of them with almost con- 
temptuous familiarity ? Why did he speak 
occasionally even to Madame Szeredy as 
though she belonged to some lower order of 
creation ? I had noticed the fact from the 
first, and hated him for his ill-breeding. 
To me he addressed very little of his 



A A' UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR. 231 

conversation ; when he did speak it was 
generally courteously and respectfully ; but 
at times, as though the force of habit were 
too strong to be overcome, there was 
something offensive in his tone and manner 
which I felt sting without being able to 
analyse in what it consisted. 

Now I was beginning to understand the 
meaning of Mr. Florence's covert sneers and 
cynical amusement at the habits and modes 
of thought of people he evidently despised, 
though theu" careless, reckless, improvident 
mode of life suited his own Bohemian 
tastes. Yes ; I had begun to learn some- 
thing of the world's ways, and that is a 
sort of knowledge in which the first step 
alone proves troublesome. 

Already I comprehended the glitter of 
the tinsel failed to blind Mr. Florence. 
Sweeping dresses, gleaming jewellery, care- 
less expenditure, wanton extravagance, 
could not impose on him. He took us for 
what we were. He could not have regarded 



232 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

our doings with more sarcastic indulgence, 
had we been a parcel of children playing at 
making believe to be lords and ladies. 

All the long night sleep never visited my 
pillow. Dreams neither disturbed nor re- 
freshed me, for the very good reason that I 
remained in that territory where realism 
reigned supreme. I thought over my 
position till I was worn out with thinking; 
but towards morning I fell into a quiet 
slumber. To perplexity succeeded a great 
calm. I had been drifting rudderless over 
a strange ocean. But I would drift no 
longer. I had been in danger of forgetting 
the lessons of my childhood, I would 
try to recall them. I had been in the 
fear of seeming pharisaical — false to the 
creeds and traditions I was brought up 
to revere. But in the future I would, God 
helping me, enter my protest, silent though 
it might be, against the utter forgetfulness 
of right and wTong, the consciousness 
of which was making me miserable, not- 



AN UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR. 233 

withstanding I lacked strength of mind 
to take up a decided position in the 
matter. 

For the future I would be no shuttlecock 
tossed about hither and thither at the will 
of others. I knew now where I ought to 
strive to cast my anchor. I saw now where 
I had commenced the downward descent. 

" I will try to be good," I said to myself, 
when utterly tired with want of rest and 
long reflection I settled down to sleep ; " and 
to be good I must be firm." 

Pity it is that threescore years and ten 
oftentimes find men and women ignorant of 
this undoubted fact. 

I was scarcely dressed next morning 
before the landlady knocked at my door. 

" Miss," she said, giving me a letter, 
" this came enclosed in one to my husband, 
asking that it might be placed in your own 
hand ; so I thought I would bring it to you 
myself." 

I took the letter ; the writing was un- 



234 HOME, SWEET HOME. 



familiar to me, and I should have deferred 
opening it but that the woman's look of un- 
disguised curiosity warned me I had better 
make no mystery of the matter. 

" Let me see who my unknown friend 
may be," I exclaimed, breaking the seal. 
As I read I felt the blood rushing into 
my face. 

" No bad news, I hope, Miss," suggested 
the landlady. " The letter to my husband 
said it was most particular you should have 
it at once." 

" It cannot be bad news to find one has 
a friend," I replied. " But I confess the 
contents of the letter sui'prise me." 

And well it might ; for the lines traced 
in a delicate foreign hand were as follows — 

" Deah Miss Annie Trenet, — I have 
been told that travelling in company with 
your party is a gentleman you met for the 
first time at Sir Thomas Brooks' in Park 
Lane. Avoid him. He is a bad man : he 



AN UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR. 235 

fears not God. He believes not in woman. 
I have a tenderness for you ; but if I had 
not, you are young and simple. Ah ! we 
were all young once ! May angels watch 
over and protect you from the evil. 

" Ever thine, 

"Lucia." 

Even whilst I had felt faithless, friends 
were thinkingf of me. When I returned to 
London, should I then require help or advice 
I would go to her. 

" I do not know how to thank you and 
your husband sufficiently," I said, turning 
to the landlady, who still lingered. " This 
letter has removed a great weight from my 
mind." 

And indeed it had. The effect on my 
appearance was so great that Herr Droigel 
greeted me as his fickle Annie, terrifying 
her fat papa one hoiu' and descending upon 
him like a thing of light the next. 

On the afternoon of the same day 



236 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Madame Szeredy and the Professor had 
arranged to inspect a furnished cottage 
which Herr Droigel proposed to take for a 
month in order that his wife, " for whose 
absence he was inconsolable, and Gretchen, 
who never lived save when near Annie," 
should join us. 

From this expedition I begged to be 
excused. I wanted to Aviite to Madame 
Serlini ; I desu'ed to have a few hours all 
alone to myself on the side of a certain 
cliff, that was accessible only from the 
sands ; and as Herr Droigel knew to a cer- 
tainty I could meet with no inexpedient 
friend in that out-of-the-way spot — the 
names of every stranger wherein he had 
ascertained — the pair left me to follow my 
•own devices. 

I wrote a short letter to Madame Serlini, 
tellino- her I had received her note and 
thanking her for it, entreatmg of her not 
to attempt to correspond with me again, 
and assuring her I would see her somehow 



AN UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR. 237 

on my return to London and confide in her 
freely. That done, I posted the epistle 
myself; and, book in hand, walked on to 
the shore and thence over the firm dry 
sands to the point I wished to reach. I 
had noticed the steep narrow path leadings 
up the face of the chfi" on a previous occa- 
sion, but had not then been able to ascend 
it. Now — sometimes stumbling, sometimes, 
tripping, always a Httle unsteady by reason 
perhaps of want of physical exercise and 
robust physical health — I reached a point 
where I could sit down and watch the 
white -winged vessels as they appeared and 
disappeared upon the summer sea. 

Ah ! it was very peaceful there — I could 
have cried for very happiness and content- 
ment of spirit, and instead of reading I 
leaned my elbow on my knee, and resting 
my cheek on my hand thought of what I 
intended to make of my future. How dif- 
ferently I should try to act hereafter if I 
could only adhere to my resolutions, and 



.238 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

summon up sufficient strength of mind to 
say " No " when it seemed far easier and 
more amiable and more rational to say 
"Yes." ' 

I had remained thus for a considerable 
period when I found my solitude was likely 
to be disturbed. From my perch I could 
see a gentleman making his way up the 
path I had followed, and a sudden turn 
revealed to me the fact he was no other 
tlian Mr. Florence, whom I had imagined 
far absent. 

In my first hurry I rose to my feet, but 
second thoughts induced me to resume my 
seat. I had not expected my courage to 
be tested so soon. No matter ; I knew it 
must be tried some time. 

" I hope you are better," he began. 

" Thank you, I am quite well," I an- 
swered. 

" Madame Szeredy and Herr Droigel, 
both of whom I met on my way here, gave 
me but a bad account of you. " 



AN UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR. 239 

" I was ill yesterday — I am well to-day," 
I replied. 

" Changeable as the wind, "he suggested, 
but I made no answer ; the speech was not 
in my opmion one that called for any. 

"Do you always talk as much. Miss 
Trenet, as has been the case recently T he 
inquired. 

" Sometimes I talk more," was my reply. 

" Depends upon the listener, I suppose. 
You can talk to Miss Droigel doubtless ?" 

"Yes, I think so." 

" And to Miss Cleeves T 

" No ; she does aU the talkmg." 

" That was a pretty little place where 
you once hved — that ' white cottage yonder' 
— of which I have heard her speak." 

The very words I had used in addressing 
Miss Cleeves. Clearly she must have been 
most graphic in her account of our first 
interview. 

" It was very pretty," I said ; "I loved 
it dearly." 



240 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Should yon wish to return there ?" 

" No ; all is changed." 

And I turned my eyes seaward, that he 
might not perceive the tears in them. 

There was a pause, then he began 
again — ■ 

" Miss Trenet !" 

"Yes, sir." With a start I came back 
from Lovedale an,d its memories, and an- 
swered as I have said. 

" Do not call me ' sir,' " he said. (How 
like and yet how unlike all this was to that 
interview in the middle of the Love.) " I 
am undeserving of so formal a title. " 

" What shall I call you V I asked the 
question without thinking, and could have 
bitten my tongue out for its stupidity, 
when he answered as such a man was cer- 
tain to answer. 

" Henry, if you will be so kind." 

I did not answer — I was too angry with 
myself and with him even to attempt to 
do so ; and seeing this, he continued — 



AN UNWISHED-FOR IIONO UR. 241 

" Do not look disdainful — I assure you 
I did not mean to offend, and disdain is 
not your forte ; your type is quite different 
to that of a tragedy queen. There, I am 
transgressing again, and I do not want to 
do that ; I only want to talk about my- 
self." 

"A congenial topic" rose to my lips, 
but I had enough sense not to utter such a 
sentence. I was afraid of the man. Even 
without Madame Serlini's caution, without 
the knowledge gained on the precedino- 
^evening, I should instinctively have held 
myself on guard when in liis presence. 

He was what most persons consider a 
handsome man, with dark hair, a high 
forehead inclined to premature baldness, 
well-cut aristocratic features, a firm, hard, 
€ruel mouth, and eyes that never softened 
or changed. I feared him. I do not think 
I could have stood more in dread of a 
tiger or a leopard. I hated and feared 
him, and yet he had a power over me — - 

VOL. III. 16 



242 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

the power I suppose that strong minds 
always possess over weak. 

I was weak — the whole training of my 
life had tended to make me so ; and yet 
I felt there was a battle beofinninof I should 
have to fight out almost alone. 

He threw himself back against the cliff, 
pillowmg his head on uplifted arms. 

" I suppose I have been what nurses 
and mothers call a bad boy the whole of 
my life," he began, " but I do not know, 
take it all together, that I am much worse 
than other people. The sins I committed 
the whole world was cognizant of That 
was my mistake. If I must sin, I should 
have sinned suh rosa, kept a fair external 
appearance even if black as Erebus within." 

" Do you not think we had better be 
making our way home V I inquired, un- 
easily. 

" Miss Trenet, I must read you a 
lecture," he said, with mock gravity; 
" when a gentleman gives you his conii- 



AN UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR. 243 

dence, you should at least pretend some 
interest in the narrative." 

" I do not feel the sHghtest interest, Mr. 
Florence," I replied ; " if you have sinned 
as you state, I should think you would 
not care to mention the fact, at all events 
to me." 

" And why not to you ?" 

" Because you cannot imagine the matter 
concerns me in the least." 

" But it may concern you." 

" When it does you can make your 
confession, if you still consider confession 
necessaiy." 

" I thought I might touch youi' heart 
with a description of my imcared-for child- 
hood, my neglected boyhood, my wild, 
imhappy youth, the years of my earlier 
manhood, that were not a whit less miser- 
able. I forgot you had been educated in 
a faith which considers confession bad for 
the soul. Once again I beg your pardon— 
and will go on to say that for the fii^st time 

16—2 



244 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

in my life I now see good within my grasp, 
if I can only manage to seize and hold it. 
Do you understand what I mean ?" 

I said "no," though I understood well 
enough. 

" The first time I saw you at Sir Thomas 
Brooks's, you excited an interest in me, 
which from that night has gone on in- 
creasing. " 

" Mr. Florence," I interrupted, " I thmk 
we ought to be returning to the hotel — 
Herr Droigel will be uneasy at my ab- 
sence." 

" Sit down," he answered, laying his 
hand on my arm ; "we maist remain here 
until the tide ebbs, unless the worthy 
Professor sends a boat to our rescue — the 
sands were wet when I came here." 

" How long will it be before the tide 
ebbs T I asked. I knew, but I put the 
question to gain time for thought. 

He had planned this — and I sat for a 
moment horrified at the idea of how such 



AN UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR. 245 



a tete-a-tete might hereafter be constiTied 
to my disadvantage. 

Inexperience here stood me in as good 
stead as experience could have done. My 
terror was so great that it quickened my 
wits, and akeady I had sketched out a 
plan of action. 

" How long ?" he answered, laughing at 
my look of dismay ; " some hours pro- 
bably." 

" And how deep is the water now ?" I 
inquired. 

"Knee-deep, I should say, and rising 
rapidly. " 

I was on my way down the cliff before 
he had finished his sentence. If the ascent 
had been steep, the descent naturally 
proved steeper; but perfectly heedless of 
danger, I darted down the path. I was 
young, I was Hght, I had been accustomed 
in my childhood to out-of-door exercise, 
free and unfettered : and deaf to Mr. 
Florence's entreaties and commands — his 



246 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" I implore," — " I desire," — I sprang down 
the slippery decline till I reached the 
water's edge. Without hesitation I 
jumped in. 

"My God, she will be drowned!" I 
heard from above — and for a moment I 
had to struggle to keep my position. The 
water was deeper than I imagined — and I, 
small and light, was as a cork throw in. 

Only for a moment however ; I caught 
at the cliff and balanced myself After 
that I made straight for land. Sometimes 
under the waves — sometimes staggermg 
onwards — blinded with salt water — some- 
times standing for a moment gasping for 
breath — but always making my way land- 
ward. 

Like one possessed I finally plunged 
and waded through shallower waters, and 
stood at length shivering and trembling on 
the shingle, Mr. Florence holding me with 
no gentle grasp. 

" I trust you are satisfied now, young 



AN UNWISHED-FOR HONOUR. 247 

lady," he said. " Next time you wish to be 
guilty of such another extravagance, I 
hope you will choose an opportunity when 
I am not of the company." 

Had I done something very wrong — 
very unfeminine % Limping home in boots 
sodden and torn — my wet cHngmg skii-ts 
flapping the dust from the white hot roads 
— my hair soaked with water — my bonnet 
a mass of straw pulp. I feared I had. Mr. 
Florence evidently was of this opinion ; for 
he never addressed me once after the sen- 
tence I have repeated, except when he 
said — " Let us go in through the garden. 
We need not let all the world see us in 
our present plight." 



CHAPTER IX. 



AT THE RETREAT. 




ISS TRENET, will you favour me 
with five minutes' conversation V 
asked Mr. Florence. 

We had dmed and we had partaken of 
coffee, and I, seated on a bench placed in 
one corner of the la'wn, was looking out 
over the darkening sea. 

I rose in answer to the request, and 
drawing a shawl more closely around me,, 
prepared to pace the lawn in his com- 
pany. 

" We can talk here," he suofo-ested. And 
when I resumed my seat, he placed him- 
self on the bench at a little distance from 
me. 

" I am afraid," he began, " I was very 



AT THE RETREAT. 24^ 

irritable and unreasonable to-day. Will 
you forgive me ?" 

"I do not wonder at your feeling irri- 
table," I replied ; " I beg your pardon for 
acting so foolishly, and for giving you so 
much trouble." 

"I deserved the trouble, and you did 
not act foolishly. I was wrong, I confess it, 
frankly. I ought to have told you the 
sands were wet ; but you cannot imagine 
how often I had tried to find you alone, 
and the temptation was iiTesistible. You 
were quite right, however, although it 
certainly mortified me not a little to see 
you flying from me as if I were an 
ogre." 

If he expected me to make any reply he 
was disappointed. Never, I think, was 
wooing conducted under greater difficulties. 
Perhaps he felt this, felt he might as well 
make a plunge at first as at last, for he 
said — 

" I tried to see you alone, because I 



.25d HOME, SWEET HOME. 

wanted to ask you a simple question — this. 
Will you marry me ?" 

He took my hand ; and remorseful con- 
cerning my former bad behaviour I let him 
keep it ; not that it could be considered 
much of an acquisition, for it lay in his like 
a piece of ice. 

"I do not want to marry any one," I 
replied, my courage as usual faihng me 
just when I stood in most need of its 
assistance. 

" That is no answer to my question. I 
did not ask you to marry any one. I 
asked you to marry me." 

" I cannot marry you." 

" Why not ? Do you dishke me T he 
went on, finding I remained silent. 

" I do not know," I repHed. 

" You do know perfectly well," he per- 
sisted ; "but there, I will not torment you 
with questions. I will not ask you what 
you have heard to my disadvantage, or 
from whom you have heard it — why you 



AT THE RETREAT. 251 

regard my simplest actions with disti-ust 
and fear, and shun me as if I were going 
to do you some grievous injury. All I will 
ask you now is this. Give me a chance 
of winning your favour. I will do my best 
to deserve it. If I am fortunate enough to 
gain your aifections, I will try with all my 
soul and strength to make you happy. 
You shall sing or remain silent just as you 
please. You shall have everything my love 
can suggest or money procure. I have 
not been so good a man as I now wish from 
my heart I had striven to become, but I 
will be true and faithful to you." 

" Oh ! Mr. Florence, do not, please do not 
talk in that way. I cannot bear it. I feel 
so false listening to such words when 1 
know it can never be — never 1" 

" Have you any other lover, Annie ?" he 
asked, gently. " You need not fear telHng 
me. If you have, and that he is worthy of 
you, I will go away and never afflict you 
with my importunities again." 



252 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" No — none," I said, almost in a whisper. 

" Are you quite certain, dear ?" 

" Perfectly certain. " 

He had held my liand all this time. He 
now touched it with his lips. 

When I drew it away, he said, " For- 
give me." But he came a httle nearer in 
spite of his penitence, and began — 

" As that is the case, you must in common 
fairness give me a chance of winning you. I 
do not wish you to bind yourself in any way. 
You have seen little of the world, and it 
is only right you should see more of it be- 
fore you tie yourself for life. I know many 
people would consider I was offering you a 
great deal. I am rich. I am well born. 
As my wife you would have the entree inta 
the best society ; but, on the other hand, I 
am not so stupid as to forget what you 
would give me in return. Your youth, 
your genius, a past pure and innocent as 
that of a child ; a temper sweet and trusting 
as that of a saint. When I think," he 
added, passionately, " of what you are now 



A T THE RET RE A T. ^SS 



and of what may be in store for you, I feel 
as if I must take you away by force and 
marry you to keep my darling from even 
the knowledge of evil." 

I coidd not answer. I was crying at the 
pictirre so cleverly suggested to my imagi- 
nation. 

" Droigel told me," he went on, " not to 
speak to you yet. He said, ' She is still 
in all matters outside her art a baby. 
Think of the seclusion in which she was 
brought up before I knew her — of the 
convent-like existence she has led with 
us. I have kept her as the apple of my 
eye. She is a sheet of white paper.' " 

" Herr Droigel does talk such nonsense," 
I exclaimed, laughing, in spite of myself 
and my sobs, at Mr. Florence's admirable 
imitation of the Professor's accent. 

" To which I answered," continued Mr. 
Florence, " ' May I ask you how long you 
expect to keep her a sheet of white paper ? 
Do you imagine for a moment she can mix 
amongst artistes and remain simple as she 



254 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

is now 1' Whereupon Droigel said, with a 
shrug of his mighty shoulders, ' There 
comes a time in the hfe of all when we say 
of him or her we have done our possible, 
the boy or the girl, the man or the woman 
must be his or her own fate — begin to weave 
the web of destiny for himself or herself 
I fear not the good Gott in Himmel will 
see that my little orphaned Annie comes 
to no bad end.' " 

" Mr. Florence," I asked, " if you have 
such a bad opinion of artistes, why do you 
associate with them ?" 

" Formerly for the reason that habit is a 
strong bond ; latterly, because I wanted 
to see as much of you as possible. And 
now," he continued, "I am going to bid 
you good-bye. I shall be away from here 
before you are awake to-morrow morning. 
You know all I desire — all I hope. Give 
me as many kind thoughts as you can spare 
till we meet agam at Fairpoii:." 

" At Fairport ?" I repeated. 



AT THE RETREAT. 255 

" Yes ; has not Herr Droigel told you ? 
Why cannot he be frank and straightfor- 
ward with you ? Lady Muriel has set her 
heart, or that part of her anatomy which 
does duty for one, on getting up some 
operas, m which of course she is to 
appear ; and we are all to assist in 
humouring her ladyship's whim. Good-bye, 
child, and remember my partmg words. I 
loved you from the first moment I saw you 
come forward in your black cloudy dress, 
with your young white frightened face to 
sing your Httle song. " 

And before I even anticipated his inten- 
tion he was holding me in his arms, kissing 
me over and over again. 

This was the result of my boasted strength 
and courage — a victory at midday, an igno- 
minious defeat in the evening. 

I had compromised myself, and I knew 
it. Well, I would try to repair the error. 

Hurrying to my own room, I wrote him 
a note which was no doubt a masterpiece 



256 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

of inconsistency and absurdity, and which 
must, I am certain, have amused so astute 
and experienced a gentleman not a httle. 

This was the reply I received next morn- 
ing by the hands of my own messenger, 
Margaret — 

" I think I understand all you feel, and 
would express, better even than you do 
yourself. Do not grieve over the irreme- 
diable. If I may never be your husband, 
you cannot prevent me always remaining 
your friend." 

Truly it was a nice cleft-stick in which I 
was placed. For a few hours I felt con- 
fident m my own strength and my own 
courage, but now I understood I never 
should be able unassisted to extricate my- 
self from the web of trouble m which I 
was enclosed. But for the thought of 
Madame Serlmi I believe my spuit would 
have fainted away, that I should either 
have run off or succumbed. As it was 
supported by the thought that if I could 



AT THE RETREAT. 257 

■once return to London help would be near, 
I held up bravely, much, I could see, to 
the astonishment of Madame Szeredy and 
Herr Droigel. 

Within a few days we too left the hotel 
^nd took up our abode at the cottage 
where we found Madame Droigel and 
Oretchen. 

The former greeted me with a frigid kiss, 
the latter was affectionate as ever. 

" You have had an offer, I hear," she 
said, as we walked up and down the morsel 
'of common -land which did duty both for 
garden and lawn, 

" Who told you that ?" I inquired. 

" Pa told ma, and I was present," she 
replied, carelessly ; " and you refused 
it!" 

To this statement I made no answer. 

" I only wish he had proposed to me," 
she went on, after a pause. 

" Dear Gretchen, you cannot be serious," 
I expostulated. 

VOL. III. 17 



258 HOME, SWEET HOME. 



" Am I not !" she exclaimed. " Let Mr. 
Florence try, that is all. If Beelzebub — 
concealing, as in duty bound, his tail and 
his cloven hoof — came and asked me to 
marry hun, saying, ' I can give you car- 
riages, horses, servants, and so forth,' I 
should at once tell him to have the settle- 
ments drawn out and the licence procured. 
Anything to escape from my present life." 

" Has it been so unhappy ?" I asked ; "it 
has seemed happy to me." 

" Because you are an idiot," she replied. 
" If you were not a born simpleton you 
would understand all this man could give 
you — wealth, rank, position." 

" I have no desire to quarrel with you, 
Gretchen," I replied ; " so if you please we 
will not discuss the question." 

"Who do you suppose has the next 
villa to this ?" she inquu'ed, acceptmg my 
decision with as much amiability and ready 
quickness as her father hunself might have 
evinced. 



AT THE RETREAT. 259 

" How should I know or guess ?" I re- 
plied. 

"Mr. Merrick's brother-in-law. I met 
Mr. Merrick on the sands yesterday, and 
he and Mr. Waterton called this morning." 

" Is Mrs. Merrick dead ?" I inquired. 

" You wicked Annie !" she exclaimed. 
" No ; Mrs. Merrick's health is quite re- 
established. " 

" Is Mrs. Waterton dead T I asked. 

" There never was a Mrs. Waterton ; at 
least no Mrs. Waterton, wife to this gen- 
tleman. He is a bachelor." 

" Well, Gretchen," I answered, " make 
your hay while the sun shines. Gather 
roses — gather roses ; it is not always May." 

" Nannie, what has come to you ?" she 
said, rubbing her smooth cheek against 
mine. "You are not the Nannie you were 
when you went away." 

" Possibly not ; we all age and change." 

" Are you vexed ^^dth me ?" 

"No, indeed, Gretchen," 

17—2 



260 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Or with papa or mamma ?" 

" No ;" but this was more doubtfuL 

" Have you guessed what the trouble 
was I spoke of?" 

" Yes, I know." 

" Who told you, did Mr. Florence T 

" No, Gretchen ; never mind how I 
know, I do know that and some other 
things also. You remember eyen kittens 
can see after nine days." 

*' I fancy some day you will hate us 
all." 

" I think not," I replied ; " some day I 
may say, ' There is a little to forgive,' but 
I shall never, I hope, forget what I owe in 
the way of gratitude." 

" Annie, I wonder if you know that I 
love you really and truly ?" 

"I am sure you do," I answered. " But 
you do not love me one-half so well as you 
do yourself — ^ which is only natural." 

"Do you love yourself?" asked Gret- 
chen, trying to trap me. 



AT THE RETREAT. 261 

'' I hate myself," I replied. " I am, as 
you said with more truth than politeness, 
an idiot, and I detest idiots." 

" Heyday !" cried Gretchen. 

Of the days and weeks which followed I 
have httle to tell. They were spent in 
almost continuous practice. To an advanced 
pupil like myself, Madame Szeredy proved 
a better mistress than Droigel was a 
master. 

She never could or would have toiled 
with me through the first days of study, 
but now that I comprehended my art to some 
small degree, she was an efficient, laborious, 
and valuable teacher ; she swore at, 
but she taught me ; she cursed the day, 
the hour, the minute when she ever under- 
took the education of a pupD. so dull, but 
when I had conquered the difficulty she 
forgot her disgust, and embracing me de- 
clared, "Couldst thou but forget everything 
and every one for music, there is no height 
to which thou mightst not aspire to cHnib^ 



262 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

There are parts in which thou shalt make 
a grand /wwrg." 

There was a great passion on me in 
those days for work — an intense desire 
for musical triumph impelling me onwards. 
I wanted to rise liigh — to do somethmg 
wonderful — to prove I was strong in art 
if in nothing else. I desired to soar 
out of my present existence into some 
sphere where I should feel free — where I 
might be my own mistress, and choose my 
own companions, friends, occupations. Be- 
yond all, I wished to succeed when I 
went to Fairport. If I made a fiasco at 
The Retreat, it would be worse for me, I 
vaguely felt, than my small triumph had 
seemed good. As Gretchen said, I was 
changed. Sometimes the Professor cau- 
tioned me, gently — 

" Take care, Annie, take care ; do not 
rush on too fast." But I did not heed ; I 
abandoned my old idols and began to 
consort with new. Opera was for me now 



AT THE RETREAT. 263 

all in all — I threw my heart, soul, and 
strength into this branch of my profession 
as I had never flung one of the three into 
ballad singing. 

" Oratorios would be more in thy line," 
he suggested. 

" She shall do all, if you will only leave 
her to me," exclaimed Madame Szeredy, 
impatiently ; and I was left to her, whilst 
Madame Droigel and her husband strolled 
along the sands, and Mr. Waterton and 
Gretchen commenced a flirtation which 
soon advanced to love-making, and after 
a suflicient period ended m mar- 
riage. 

It might have ended in marriage sooner, 
had I accepted Mr. Florence when he first 
asked me ; that would have thrown a glory 
of respectability over the whole family, 
which at first, I fear, we all wanted in the 
eyes both of Mr. Waterton and his sister, 
Mrs. Merrick, who asked me many questions 
with a view of discovering " all about the 



234. HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Droigels," in which endeavour she signally 
failed. 

Was I a wretch that, after having lived 
for years with these people, I should turn 
traitor and bare the secrets of their home 
for her edification ? 

Gretchen and she agree admirably. 
Gretchen has accepted the life and ideas 
and employments of those amongst whom 
her lot is cast, with an adaptability to me- 
simply incomprehensible. Mr. Waterton 
never suspected she had marked him for 
her prey from the first moment he was 
introduced to her by Mr. Merrick. She 
told me this quite frankly, for which she 
was subsequently punished by many alarms 
lest 1 should reveal that fact to hmi, or 
else another — namely, that she did not care 
in the least for him, but loved his position 
more than can be imao-ined. 

o 

She is very fond of him now. He gives 
her all she wants, and her wants are many 
— but I should not like to guarantee th& 



AT THE RETREAT. 265 

fondness lasting if he were ruined to- 
morrow. I hope he will never subject 
her affection to that test. 

Sometimes there recur to me memories 
of various tender passages which occurred 
between Gretchen and a young German 
to whom she fancied herself devotedly 
attached. They came to nothing, happily 
for both, and Gretchen fondly hopes I 
have forgotten all about his existence. It 
does not matter. Not a pang of jealousy 
shall ever disturb the rest of Mr. Waterton 
— whom Herr Droigel calls " that specimen 
John Bull husband, so kind, so wise, sa 
rich " — if my silence can preserve him 
from it. 

To this hour he believes Herr Droigel 
to be one of the most credulous, guile- 
less, and child-like of men, and it is 
unlikely he will ever now change his 
opinion. I see no necessity why he 
should. 

Before this person Gretchen spoke much 



"266 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

to me of Mr. Florence, introducing his 
name in a manner which would at one time 
have struck me as extraordinary. I was 
growing wise, however, and the fairy dust 
failed to bhnd me. Of my own goodwill 
I never spoke of him. He was never out of 
my thoughts, but I kept my thoughts to 
myself. 

Just as a child going down a long dark 
corridor walks on silent, though tremblingly 
afraid of encountering a ghost, so I walked 
on silent, dreading the encounter with my 
ghost, which was indeed coming very 
near. 

The day at length dawned. I was going 
back to Fairport. After years, and years, 
Slid years, I was to see the familiar houses, 
the well-remembered bay, the weather- 
beaten church, and that old monument, the 
memory of which always comes back fresh 
and vivid whenever in the darkling twilight 
I hear the words — 

" Lighten our darkness, Lord." 



AT THE RETREAT. 267 



Sir Brooks' carriage met us at the 
station. Time had brought a railway as 
well as other strange things to Fairport ; 
and as we drove along the Parade, past 
my uncle's house, where I caught a glimpse 
of Mrs. Isaac dispensing tea to the family, 
my heart beat so fast I could make no 
answer to Herr Droigel's ceaseless 
chatter. 

Past the church ! How grey, and aged, 
and shrunken it looked to me, half hidden 
amongst the billows of graves that rose so 
high around ! Past the house where I once 
heard Miss Cleeves singmg " Rory O'More," 
and whistling to herseh* in the balcony. 
Oh 1 what centuries seemed to have come 
and gone suice then. Out of the town 
altogether, out into the lonely country 
beyond, over smooth sandy roads to The 
Retreat. 

"It is not a dream, Annie," said the 
Professor, as we turned through the gates 
and whiiied up the avenue. "It is real ; 



268 HOME, SWEET HOME. 



and thine own voice has wrought this, 
miracle. " 

" Welcome back to Fairport, Miss 
Trenet," said a voice that swept aside all 
illusions, as we stopped before the hall 
door, and Mr. Florence handed me from 
the carriage, and escorted me into the 
house. 




CHAPTER X. 



OLD ACQUAINTANCES. 




ET Lady Muriel's faults be what 
they might — and spite of her 
divine impulses, or perhaps, indeed, 
because of them, the world said she had 
plenty — that of making her guests mise- 
rable was not one of them. 

In her house all men were equal, and for 
that matter, all women too. Gentle or 
simple she treated us alike, except perhaps 
that for artistes rather than for her other 
guests she had more frequent words — that 
we received more gracious courtesy from her 
than she extended to those of her own rank 
in life. 

That was the first time I ever stayed in 
a grand house, or found myself surrounded 



270 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

by great people ; and on the whole it 
did not prove so terrible an ordeal as I ex- 
pected. 

" This is the life, Annie. This is living," 
said Herr Droigel to me, rapturously, as we 
wandered through the conservatories on 
the morning after our arrival. It was a life 
he revelled in. The luxury, the ease, the 
magnificent house, the respectful servants, 
the eating, the drinking, the talking, the 
fruits, flowers, lawns, shrubberies, delighted 
his sensuous, contradictory nature. He 
could scarcely restrain his ecstasies. 

" It is this," he said, " which is the Eng- 
lish speciality — this country life at once so 
cosmopolitan and so retired — so unre- 
strained, and yet so refined. Ah ! Annie, 
pity we were bom only poor musicians, and 
not lords and ladies." 

He was amiability itself Never had 
Droigel's character appeared more simple, 
more infantile, more susceptible. 

Nevertheless he saw everything ; saw 



OLD ACQUAINTANCES. 271 

that Lady Muriel would act only with 
Mr. Florence, that Sir Brooks wished us 
all individually and collectively at Jericho, 
or even a more distant bourne, saw that 
Lord Fortfergus was a conceited, impecu- 
nious, superficial old dilettante, whose 

opera . " Ach, well," he said ; " we talk 

of dat no more. He will have to be sung, 
so we need not to pull faces. " He saw that 
for some reason Miss Cleeves, who was of 
our party, did not affect my society so 
much as formerly ; saw that the Misses 
Wiiforde, our ladies, were stately and dis- 
appointed women ; saw, before I did, there 
was something amiss with my uncle ; saw 
that even the delight of hearing Tommy 
shout out " The British Grenadiers," and 
sing a comic song in character, failed to 
remove a cloud fi'om Mrs. Isaac's brow 
and restore her wonted volubihty. In 
short, nothing escaped my master. 

There was one person he could not 
understand, however — Miss Cleeves. He 



272 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

watched her, he talked with her, he talked 
of her. 

" That Miss, she is so droll," he remarked 
to me over and over again " She baffles, 
she feigns, she defies." He said this one 
evening to Mr. Florence, who at first only 
laughed in reply. They remained talking 
together for a few minutes ; then Herr 
Droigel's face clouded, and he walked out 
" with his thoughts" into the night. 

" Miss Cleeves seems a mystery to you 
no longer," I observed the next day. 

" Ah, no, little one ; but we must blind- 
fold those bright eyes. You must not 
grudge me my own poor pleasure. I love 
a mystery — to me it is as a child's puzzle 
— that amuses and pains together ; once 
put together, the pleasure is over." 

" Then you have put Miss Cleeves toge- 
ther r 

" Yes, and we will put her away. 
Amongst those great people she treats thee 
a trifle cavalierly, it strikes me," he said. 



OLD ACQUAINTANCES. 273 

It had struck me too, but then Miss 
Cleeves' moods and tenses were not un- 
familiar to me. 

The same evening she said, " I am in- 
diting a letter to Syl. Have you any 
message I can convey to him ?" 

" To Mr. Sylvester?" I exclaimed, opening 
my eyes in amazement. " Certainly not." 
Then, thinking my words sounded scarcely 
civil, I added, " I hope he is quite well." 

If I had been able to peep over her 
shoulder, and read the letter she sent, 
the knowledge would not have added 
to my comfort. As it was, I went on my 
way happily ignorant of the contents of 
that epistle. 

I saw it at a later period. This was how 

it ran : — 

" The Retreat, 

" Tuesday night. 

" My dear Syl,— No doubt you have 
been anxiously counting the days, and 
watching the posts, in exj)ectation of my 

VOL. in. 18 



274 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

promised letter. Here it is at last, and 
I have hosts of things to tell you. But 
first, let me ask why would you not accept 
Lady Muriel's invitation? She says she 
wrote pressingly begging you to come, and 
seems rather offended at your refusal. But 
that is of no consequence. Nor is her 
Ladyship of much. She does not grow 
wiser as she grows older ; and she has 
scandalized the old ladies to such an 
extent, they repent having accepted her 
invitation, and wish they had been able 
to prevent my beholding so much of the 
world's wickedness (at one time) as is to 
be seen in this house. I only wish I had 
seen as little of it as they have in any 
house, or rather I do not. Existence 
without a slight knowledge of sin is as 
soup without salt, somewhat insipid. 

" We are a very large party, and I have 
enjoyed the visit immensely, the horror 
and dismay of our respected relatives 
adding not a little to my pleasure. They 



OLD ACQUAINTANCES. 275 

asked me after Droigel had been squiring 
Aunt Dorothea through the gardens who 
he was. 

" ' Can you tell me the name of that 
distinguished-looking foreigner X were Miss 
Wifforde's words, whilst Miss Dorothea 
added — 

<■<■ <■ "Who speaks English so well.' 

" ' I think he is a Clount Albrecht von 
Droigel/ I answered ; ' I have seen him 
at the Dacres." 

" ' That girl with the dark eyes is his 
daughter, is she not V 

" ' His adopted daughter. His own real 
child is as magnificent a specimen of crea- 
tion as the Count himself 

" Would you believe it ? for three whole 
days the darlings received Droigel's de- 
voted attentions with that kind of amiabla 
condescension with which English people 
always treat distinguished foreigners. And 
they went out of their way to talk to 
Annie — ^vho answered — ' No, Madame' — 

18—2 



276 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

' Yes, Madame' — ' Thank you, Miss Wifforde. ' 
You know her silly frightened way, looking- 
ready all the while to run oflp and hide. 

"'So exceedingly shy,' said Miss Wif- 
forde. ' Do you not tliink we have seen 
some lady very like Count Droigel's 
dauofhter?' asked Miss Dorothea. 

" ' The same idea occurred to me,' re- 
marked Miss Wifforde ; ' but of course 
amonofst the number of faixiilies we have 
known in our lono- lives we migfht 
have met with some relatives of Miss 
Droio-eL' And then the old darlino^s 
tripped along, holding up their brocaded 
skirts, and exhibiting their silk stockings, 
and fanning themselves, and looking as if 
they had gone to every ball at Almack's 
in theii' youth, and spent the remainder of 
their lives in going to Court and visiting 
the nobihty and others throughout the 
United Kingdom, besides frequenting aU 
places of fashionable resort on the Con- 
tinent. 



OLD ACQUAINTANCES. 277 

" I hoped, I did hope I should be able 
to keep up the deception. What with 
their utter ignorance of the French lan- 
guage out of a book, and their want of 
knowledge of German and Itahan under 
^ny conditions, I was nearly successful. 
Little Trenet really has improved her 
opportunities, and though her accent is 
"v^ilely German, speaks French wonderfiiUy 
fluently. And in that language I dis- 
■coursed to her, whilst I held forth to 
Droigel — dear, fat, delightflil Droigel — in 
German. So I meant to pass them both off 
as amateur musicians. I had told our 
aunts that abroad every Prince wrote an 
opera, and every Count played the violin 
■or piano, and that every young Princess 
understood thorough bass, and every Coun- 
tess sang from the time she was able to say 
whatever may be the short for Mlider. 

" The fact that Lord Fortfergus had com- 
posed the ineffably idiotic opera which was 
the raison d'etre of our being at The Retreat, 



278 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

lent a sufficient colour of truth to my 
fictions. 

" ' You remember, dear,' said Miss Doro- 
thea, 'that Elizabeth's father played re- 
markably well on the flute.' 

" ' Yes, and poor Lady Brooks, Sir 
Thomas's first wife, composed a song called 
" The Nightingale," which she published 
for the benefit of the Fairshire County 
Asylum. Somewhere at the Great House 
there must be a copy of it. We bouglit 
fifty.' 

" Nothing could be going on better till 
the night of the performance — last night 
— but I shudder to think of what then 
befell, and so hurry on. 

" Hunter summoned me from the ball- 
room, while for an instant I was standing 
still, talking to the most heavenly waltzer 
who ever descended to earth — Mr. Florence 
— with this remark, ' If you please, Miss 
Cleeves, you are wanted in Miss Wiiforde's 
dressing-room most particidar.' 



OLD ACQUAINTANCES. 279 

" ' She is not in a fit, is she Hunter V 
I asked. 

" ' She is very ill, Miss Elizabeth,' said 
the stately maid. 

" Of course I at once thought about the 
succession, and you and myself, and whether 
she had made a will, and where it was, and 
so forth. 

" With a sad face I entered the dressing- 
room. ' We shall not require you any 
more, Hunter,' said Miss Wifforde. 'You 
can withdraw, and close the door.' 

" Syl, they were both there in theii* night- 
caps and dressing-gowns. 

" ' What is the matter ?' I asked. ' I 
thought from Hunter's manner you must 
beiU.' 

"'We are iU,' said Miss Wifforde. 
' Elizabeth, you have intentionally de- 
ceived us. We have been enlightened to- 
night. That Droigel, your Count, is a 
music master, and that gii-1 he passes off 
as his daughter is the grand-daughter of 



280 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Mrs. Motfield. She is an actress — she is 
going on the stage,' 

' ' I spare you what followed. Little Trenet 
had done the thing too well for an 
amateur. The old ladies had their wits 
about them to an extent for which I was 
not prepared. They inquired, they heard, 
the curtain falls. I will draw it up to- 
morrow on a different scene. 

" To-morrow has come, and we leave to- 
day. I am so sorry, I was enjoying myself 
to a degree perfectly indescribable, I wish 
I had held my peace about Droigel and that 
stupid Annie. The amusement obtained is 
not worth the price that will have to be paid. 
Really I am beginning to think, with our 
respectable relations, that it is better to 
have nothing to do with people who sing 
or play, or act or write, beyond reading 
their works, or paying money to hear or 
see them perform. 

" They always get one into trouble in 



OLD ACQUAINTANCES. 281 

the long ruii ; whilst as for composing 

oneself But I see you in imagination 

laughing at my change of opinions, so mil 
give no further cause for merriment. 

" I made my peace with the old ladies 
— never mind how ; but cleverly and effec- 
tually ; and Miss Wifforde is not without 
hope that in the peace and retirement of 
the Great House, I may forget the riot 
and dissipation which prevail in this 
establishment. Lady Muriel says she is 
' so sorry we are going ;' but I believe she 
is very glad. I am sure I should if I 
were she. Sir Thomas, as usual, says 
notliing, but I fancy he is sorry. The old 
ladies can play propriety well if they can 
play nothing else. 

" But if Sir Thomas could only believe 
it, he has not the slightest reason for 
jealousy now. Mr. Florence is about to 

be married, and the happy lady is 

I will give you three guesses. No, I will 
not. You shall have the delicious tit-bit 



282 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

at a mouthful. The happy lady is Annie 
Trenet — Mrs. Motfield's grand-daughter — 
and she will be the Honourable Mrs. 
Florence. No wonder our relatives fly 
from The Ketreat as Lot did from the 
cities of the plain. If any one of the trio 
be turned into a pillar of salt, it will be 
me, for I shall certainly look back with 
longing to the only happy time I have 
passed since I left London. You will come 
down of course to the Great House very 
shortly now, and I will prepare another 
budget of news for your especial edifi- 
cation. 

" Yours affectionately, 

"E. Cleeves." 

" I re-open my letter to tell you Herr 
Droigel and his adopted daughter have 
just returned from Fairport. She with 
cheeks red for a wonder, and eyes swelled 
up with crying — a fright. I asked Annie 
Avhat was the matter. She answered. 



OLD ACQUAINTANCES. 283 

' Nothingf, ' I asked Herr Droierel. He 
replied, ' Our Annie is a plant so sensitive.' 
I asked Mr. Florence. He said he did not 
know, and I told him he ought to know." 

"Midnight, Lovedale. 

" We have arrived here safely. We are 
surrounded once more by the eternal silence 
of this dreary house. No more dancing, 
no more flirting ; nothing but prayers, 
pride, and propriety. 

" Mr. Florence and Sir Thomas saw us 
to the carriage. I said to the former, 
' When you are married, do you think 
Annie will let you waltz ?' 

" ' I cannot tell,' he answered, ' but I am 
quite certain I shall not allow her to do so. ' 

" ' Miss Cleeves,' observed Miss Wifibrde, 
as we drove away from that dehghtful 
place, 'you permit yourself a strange lati- 
tude in your remarks to gentlemen.' 

" 'I only wish I could, aunt,' I replied, 
plaintively. ' My remarks would then be a 



28'i HOME, SWEET HOME. 

vast deal more amusing than they are now. ' 
I wish I knew what Droigel's baby was 
crying about to-day. That name fits her 
to a nicety." 

Miss Cleeves' remarks concerning my 
manner and appearance when I returned 
from Fairport were quite correct. I had 
been crying, and tears are not becommg to 
every one. Further, I was much vexed 
in mind, and annoyance is not always 
conducive to the maintenance of that calm 
which all human beings ought to preserve 
externally. A great trouble had fallen upon 
me, outside my profession, outside of Mr. 
Florence. Something was the matter with 
my uncle, and all my inquiries failed to 
elicit from him what that something might 
be. At last I bethought me of questioning 
Mrs. Isaac. As usual she was communi- 
cative ; for once she was civil. She thought 
it was quite right of me, she stated, to 
want to know the reason of the change 



OLD ACQUAINTANCES. 



in her poor dear husband. He had for- 
bidden her to mention the matter to me ; 
but there were tunes (many I imagine) 
when, in her opinion, obedience in a wife 
became a sin. It was very hard upon 
her, careful as she had always been, and 
saving as she had tried to be for the sake 
of her family. 

But what was the trouble I wanted to 
know % " She could not exactly tell, except 
that Isaac and his brother Daniel were 
answerable in some way for an uncle of Mrs. 
Daniel's. If I remembered she had never 
thought much of Mrs, Daniel or her people, 
for all she held her head so high, and gave 
herself airs as if her husband's family were 
dirt under her feet." 

" I did not pay much attention either 
to Mrs. Daniel or her affairs," I said, find- 
ing some answer was expected, and con- 
scious that my recollections of Mrs. Isaac's 
feelings did not tally \A\\i her own rej)ort 
of them. 



286 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" And well it would have been for some 
other people if they had paid as httle," 
she replied; "it will kill your uncle. It 
is not as if even he had not paid down 
Jemima's fortune, poor dear. We shall 
have to give up this house and sell every- 
thing, I suppose," she added, looking 
ruefully at the various articles in the 
room, and then suddenly she gave way 
and broke into passionate sobs. 

"Don't cry, aunt," I exclaimed ; "it 
cannot be so bad as you think — we — I 
can surely ck) something to help uncle." 

"But it's a mint of money," she said; 
"you, what could you do, child ?" 

" I do not know," I replied ; " but I will 
do something if you only tell me all about 
the matter." 

It was very little she was able to tell. 
She had heard nothing except from 
strangers. And then she covered her 
face with her hands ao^ain and bewailed 
herself, whilst I wept for sympathy. 



OLD ACQUAINTANCES. 237 

Just then Herr Droigel, who had ar- 
rano-ed to call for me, entered the room. 

"Bah!" he ejaculated, "this is bad. 
What has happened — what is the trouble ?" 

When we told him he said, "You must 
not despair, dear Madame ; there may be a 
tiny track found out of the forest. This 
good child and I will talk all over, and 
come back ; yes, we will come back." 

" You want to help the dear uncle, 
Annie," he remarked, as we walked along 
the shore to The Ketreat, in order to avoid 
meeting people. " I think I see a way if 
you object not." 

" Object ! I would cut off my hand to 
help Uncle Isaac." 

" Well then, I fancy I see a ray of 
light." 

"But you must not ask Mr. Florence 
to help," I exclaimed, a sudden suspicion 
crossing my mind. 

" No, no, no, no !" answered Herr Droigel, 
vehemently ; " that would be bad, so bad. 



288 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

It shall be a little secret between you and 
me ; you must see the other uncle and 
learn all from him ; then we will set our 
wits to work, and when we leave this so 
enchanting Retreat act. Think of it, Annie, 
that through poor Droigel you may be 
able to render such help as shall enable 
that good man to weather his storm." 

This was how it came to pass that after 
morning service, which we all duly attended 
at St. StejDhen's, I found myself seated 
by the side of Jemima's husband driving 
inland to Deepley. 

Jemima's husband evidently considered 
himself a sadly injured individual. Some 
one had suggested he ought to return his 
wife's fortune, or endeavour in other ways 
to assist his father-in-law. 

" But of course, Miss Trenet," he said, 
" my friends woidd not hear of such im- 
prudence for a moment ; a man must look 
to himself" 

" Of course," I assented. Even had I 



OLD ACQUAINTANCES. 289 

been inclined for argument, I well knew 
discussion in that case would have proved 
w^orse than useless. 

When Mrs. Daniel learned my name and 
errand she received me with open arms. 
She at once made me free of that draw- 
ing room, the furniture in which had trem- 
bled in the balance. Ah ! how strange it 
seemed to me to think I had once been 
low-spirited because the glories of her 
abode were about to be revealed to my 
cousins — glories concealed from me. 

" Dear ! dear I" she said; " and so you are 
Annie! I always thought you would turn 
out something wonderful ; when your Amit 
Jane declared you would never be fit for 
anything but moping about, I stuck up for 
you. ' There's a deal of outcome m those 
quiet gMs,' I said — those were my very 
words. And so you are staying at The 
Retreat, and went to church to-day with Sir 
Thomas and his lady, and sat in the family 
pew — only to think of it ! and but the other 

VOL. III. 19 



290 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

day, so it seems, you were a bit of a child, 
and old Mrs. Motfield living, and all the 
family grudging you the food and shelter 
you got at the Cottage — all except me and 
my dear husband." 

" Your memory is shorter than mine, 
Mrs. Daniel," I remarked. " I recollect the 
time when you did not entertain a very 
favourable opinion of me ; but we will let 
bygones be bygones. I have no wish to 
recall the past, unless you force me to do 
so." 

That silenced her ecstasies, and during 
the remainder of my visit, which lasted 
only long enough to rest and feed the horse, 
I talked prmcipally with my uncle — a man 
who had never liked me, and whom I had 
never liked, and who evidently did not 
believe that I should be able to assist him 
or his brother. 

" Why did not Isaac tell her how he was 
placed if he thought she could be of any 
use ?" he said, in answer to his wife's 



OLD ACQUAINTANCES, 



291 



entreaties that he would explain every- 
thing. 

I could have told him why, but I did 
not consider it part of my mission to state 
that Uncle Isaac's ideas were as widely 
removed from those of his brother as the 
east is far apart from the west. 




19—2 



CHAPTER XL 



MY O W X SECRET, 




HIS is a letter I received from my 
Uncle Isaac some time after I left 
Fairport : — 

"My dear Nanxie, — -I never thought 
the day would come when I should feel 
ashamed to write to you, but I do now. 
I have taken your future earnings, allowed 
you to mortgage your little property, per- 
haps run the risk of keeping you poor for life, 
and all this makes me feel very miserable ; 
but when I think how you have saved both 
me and my brother from ruin, how you 
have enabled us to keep our homes together 
and obtained time for us to work out the 
balance of our indebtedness, so that our 



M Y on 'N SEC RE T. ai)--* 

cliildren may not be beggars and our homes 
destitute, I cannot but believe it will all be 
repaid to you in God's good time a hundred- 
fold. 

" When the trouble is over, and the dan- 
ger, through your help and that of om* good 
friend Herr Droigel, averted, friends start 
up unexpectedly. A Mr. Florence called 
upon me the other day. He left Lady 
Muriel sitting in her carriage whilst he 
<3ame in and asked if he could speak to me 
for a moment in private. 

" He said he had heard mdirectly of my 
embarrassments, and, as he took the liveliest 
interest in you and all connected with you, 
he hoped I would allow him to place his 
cheque-book at my disposal. He seemed 
vexed when I told him I required no 
further assistance — that, thanking him most 
gratefully, all the money I required had 
been provided. 

" Spite of his kindness and generosity, I 
am afraid I do not like Mr. Florence, Annie. 



294 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

It is said here you are going to marry him,, 
and that it is a wonderful match for you to 
make. 

" I thmk if there had been any truth in 
this report you would not have left me to 
hear it from strangers. He stayed talking 
to me for so long that I got fidgety, and 
ventured to remind him Lady Brooks was 
waitmg. 

" ' Let her wait,' he said, impatiently. 
Fancy that — and she a lady, and he her 
guest. ' She would come with me, though 
I did my best to escape ;' and then he spoke 
about you, until at last I had to ask him to 
excuse me. There were customers wantmg 
prescriptions made up, and no one but a 
boy to attend to them, so he went away 
promising to call again. I am glad to say 
he has not done this. Write to me soon, 
dear, and tell me whether I am to believe 
what is said or not. I cannot think you 
would marry merely for money or for rank. 
I reproach myself now that I saw so little 
of you while you were here. 



MV OWN SECRET. 295 

" Keverting to my own affairs, I have had 
another offer of assistance — namely, from 
Mr. E,isley, the principal solicitor in Fairport. 
It seems as if your help had brought me 
friends and good fortune, for business has 
never been better, my neighbours never more 
kind." 

"What says the dear uncle?" asked 
Herr Droigel. 

"He fancies he has beggared me," I 
answered. For various reasons I did not 
think it necessary to tell him anything 
about Mr. Florence's visit or proffer of 
assistance. I failed to understand Herr 
Droigel's real wishes regardmg my future. 
I fail to understand what they were still, 
though I have a theory on the subject. 

" Ah ! you will soon bring all that to 
rights," replied the Professor, gaily. " You 
shall appear with Serlini and carry the 
house." 

" Is that true ? Will she permit — will 
she listen to the idea ?" I cried, trembling 
with excitement: 



296 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" She is delighted," repHed Herr Droigel. 
" She is graciousness itself." 

How I studied no one can imagme ; 
how I tried to perfect myself in this new 
branch of art surprised even the Professor. 

Much of my new energy was displayed 
in order to rid myself of Mr. Florence, but 
he did not seem to resent it ; on the con- 
trary, he only laughed when Miss Cleeves, 
who did not now visit us so much as for- 
merly, spoke of my distressing industry. 

" Miss Trenet ^vill have more leisiu"e to 
place at the disposal of her friends when 
the season is over," he remarked on one 
occasion, when Mr. Sylvester chanced also 
to be of the company. " At present every- 
thing connected with operatic life has for 
her \kiQ charm of novelty." 

" Then you really intend to go upon the 
stage ?" said Mr. Sylvester to me in a low 
tone, whilst Miss Cleeves was cross-ques- 
tioning Mr. Florence about a song he had 
introduced mto Lord Fortfergus' opera, and 



MY OWN SECRET. 297 

HeiT Droigel was reproducing the melody 
on the piano. " T did not beheve the report 
— is it true ?" 

" Quite true," I replied. 

He did not say he was glad — he did not 
say he was sorry ; he turned the conversa- 
tion to some indifferent subject, and shortly 
after took his leave. 

" He thiaks I must fail," I thought. 
" Well, he shall see." 

Had I not been intoxicated with the 
fascination of the new Hfe opening before 
me — had I been able to adliere to the 
resolution made far away from London, to 
prevent my senses being deluded by the 
deceptive glitter which at that time sur- 
rounded me, I must have shrunk from 
crossing the threshold I had reached. 

But the glamour was upon me ; I was 
back amongst the pleasant people of old. 
I had no leisui'e for thought or for fear. I 
w^as proud of what I had been able to do 
for mv uncle, and of what those with whom 



2D8 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

I was thrown in contact said I might do 
for myself. I never recollect during the 
whole of that period feeling alarmed con- 
cerning my ultimate destination but once, 
I had been singing at a concert of sacred 
music, and Madame Dellaro, who boasted 
the deepest and most disagreeable voice I 
ever heard in my life — people called it a 
contralto, I called it a baritone — ^was to see 
me safely back to the Droigel mansion. 
Perhaps for the sake of home peace the 
Professor did not accompany me everywhere 
himself as formerly, but consigned me now 
to the care of this friend, and now of that. 
On the present occasion Madame Dellaro, 
wishing to leave before it was possible for 
me to do so, asked another friend to take 
charge of me. This friend — a grievous 
sinner, who had a knack of " singmg re- 
ligion," to quote her own phrase, with the 
most holy and sanctified expression — with 
eyes upturned to heaven and a look of de- 
votion in her face and attitude which a 



MV OWN SECRET. 299' 

saint might have envied — said to me as we 
drove along, in that foreign accent which 
seemed more familiar than EngHsh — 

" Just you come into my house for one 
moment ; I want you most particular." 

I did not like going m, for hints and 
rumours of the life she led had reached 
even my ears ; but she laughed at all my 
excuses, and, as usual, I had not sufficient 
strength of mind to persist in taking a de- 
cided course. When we alighted she said 
something to the coachman which I could 
not hear, and then hurried me upstairs into 
a room brilliantly lighted, and filled with 
company. 

" Caught so beautiful !" she exclaimed, 
turning to me and breaking out into a peal 
of laughter. "Now you stay for supper." 
I did not say her nay or yea. Stay to 
supper I determmed I would not, for 
amongst the persons assembled I saw the 
faces of several whose acquaintance Madame 
Serlini had cautioned me against forming 



SOO HOME, SWEET HOME. 

with the united strength of all the lan- 
guages she spoke. 

Herr Droigel, too, had not been silent 
-concerning some of them. " Be civil, 
Annie," he said, "but nothmg more. Say 
'yes,' 'no,' 'good day,' 'good night.' Talk 
as little as you can help." And here I was 
m their midst. 

" I have one crow to pluck with you," 
said the hostess, turning to a gentleman 
near her, none other than Mr. Sylvester. 
" I begged you to come so hard to my 
supper and you dechned— ' Non, non,' you 
were engaged elsewhere — and now, at the 
asking of Monsieur Neville, I find you here 
before me." 

" Ah, mademoiselle !" he replied, " I wish 
I could plead that it is never too late 
to I'epent of an error, but the fact is I 
really cannot remain — I am gomg to Herr 
Droigel's. " 

" You can go to Droigel afterwards." 

" A thousand thanks, but I must go to 
Droigel now." 



MY OWN SECRET. 301 

" What is the special attraction there ?" 
carelessly asked Mr. Florence, who was of 
the party. 

" Business," was the answer. 

All this time I had been thinking how I 
was to escape. If I remained, Mr. Florence 
would, I felt satisfied, offer to escort me 
home, and the tete-a-tete I had been striving- 
for so long a time to avoid must take place. 
Fortunately I had not yet removed my 
shawl, and only thrown back my hood, and 
noticing a door half concealed by curtains, 
I asked a lady near me if I could go into 
the next room to arrange my dress. 

There was a second door in this room, 
opening on to the staircase, and mthout 
stopping to leave any message or apology, 
I ran down into the hall, passed through 
the porch, and found myself in the open 
air. Before I had reached the outer gate, 
however, Mr. Florence overtook me. 

" My brougham is here," he said, " if you 
will do me the honour of makmg use of 
it." 



^02 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" And I am here, Miss Trenet, if you 
will allow me the honour of seeing you 
home," added Mr. Sylvester, commg hur- 
riedly forward. 

Involuntarily I passed Mr. Florence with 
a slight curtsey and cold " Thank you^ — I 
prefer walkmg," and took Mr. Sylvester's 
offered arm. 

" May I inquire," asked the former, after 
we had proceeded a short distance in silence, 
"by what right, Mr. Bhwood, you claim to 
be this young lady's escort ?" 

" I have no right," was the quiet reply, 
" except that of having known Miss Trenet, 
less or more, nearly the whole of her Hfe- 
time. 

" She will take her death of cold," re- 
marked Mr. Florence ; " and if she does, 
Herr Droigel mil scarcely, I think, thank 
the friend of her childhood for having in- 
duced her to walk home in thin shoes and 
an evenmg dress. My brougham is close 
hehmd. Do you not imagme you would be 



AIV OWN SECRET. 303 

acting the part of a judicious guardian if 
you were to permit me to set you and your 
ward down at Herr Droigel's instead of 
aiding and abetting Miss Trenet in her 
endeavours to catch bronchitis ?" 

" You are very kind," answered Mr. Syl- 
vester ; and without consultiag my wishes 
he paused to let the conveyance overtake 
us. 

Mr. Florence opened the door for me, 
and then with a bow stood aside to permit 
Mr. Sylvester to follow, after which he got 
in liitnself. 

It did not take us long to reach the 
Professor's door. 

"Shall you be long here?" asked Mr. 
Florence, as Mr. Sylvester was bidding him 
good-night. 

" Only a few minutes was the reply. 

" Then, if you permit, I will wait. I 
should like to have a Httle conversation 
with you, and we can talk on our way to 
your chambers." 



304 HOME, SWEET HOME. 



Whatever it might be Mr. Sylvester had 
to say to Herr Droigel he said in private, 
and it had the effect of rendering the Pro- 
fessor thoughtful for the remainder "of the 
evening. 

Next day Mr. Florence was closeted with 
him for full an hour, and after his departure 
Herr Droigel spoke to me concerning the 
offer that gentleman had done his Annie so 
great honour as to make. 

"Do you not remember what you told 
me long and long ago T I asked when he 
had quite finished his statement and his 
comments on the beauty of Mr. Florence's 
affection and the generosity of his proposed 
settlements. " You said an artiste should 
never marry. You were right, and I mean 
to follow your advice." 

" But to all rules there are excep- 
tions ' he was beginning, when I in- 
terrupted him. 

" I shall prove no exception. I suppose 
I ought to be grateful to Mr. Florence, but 



J/V OWN SECRET. 305 



I am not, I suppose I ought to like him, 
but I cannot. I would rather die than 
marry him. I would sooner beg my bread 
than Hve in a palace with him." 

" Softly, softly !" exclaimed the Professor, 
" you are not on the stage now. This is a 
very grave question. You have received an 
•offer most remarkable, and you must not 
throw a jewel of price on one side as if it 
were of no value at all." 

" I will not marry Mr. Florence." 

" Well, well, well, this obstinate child 
must have her way. She shall not be 
opposed or irritated. She shall show her 
little airs and expend her fury on the 
boards, and then we will talk once more. 
She will learn wisdom as she grows older — 
learn that Droigel, with all the ^vill in 
the world, cannot give her everything she 
would have — that the poor Professor, 
though he was able to teach her much, 
cannot stand for ever between her and the 
.evil of this wicked world. " 

VOL. Ill, 20 



306 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

And solemnly shaking his head, Herr 
Droigel left me to my own reflections. 

But for the engrossmg thought of ap- 
pearing with Madame Serlini, I scarcely 
know how I should have got through the 
weeks which followed — weeks durmg which 
I tried to banish the ever-recurring ques- 
tion of what plan for the future I must 
form — with whom I must live, where I 
ought to go. 

That I could not remain at the Droigels', 
I felt confident ; that if I could, it was 
neither fit nor expedient for me to do so, 
each day satisfied me more and more. 

Droigel could not take charge of me as 
he had once done. Madame, even had 
she been willmg, was unfit to take the 
care of any one. I was not old enough, 
wise enough, clever enough, to take care 
of myself 

Wliat Herr Droigel had said was quite 
true. I had neither father, brother, mother, 
or sister ; and without a husband, a woman 



MY OWN SECRET. 307 



SO lonely occasionally finds her position dif- 
ficult. 

The momentous evening arrived. It is 
a very different thing, singing in a concert- 
room and coming forward to the footlights 
and uplifting one's voice to stalls, boxes, 
and galleries : but this is a part of my 
experience on which I have no desu-e to 
enlarge. I never can recall that night 
without a terrible longing that the j)ast 
could be undone — that the airs migfht be 
unsung, the acting prove a dream. I shrink 
when I think of having appeared before 
such a multitude in even so small a part 
as that allotted to me. In the moment 
of my greatest success, I see again a pair 
of wistful eyes fixed upon me with such 
a mournful, regretful expression, that my 
own filled with tears, and louder than 
the applause which followed, I can hear 
the throbbing of my heart, which at 
last understai:|.ds its own mystery, com- 
prehends the leng-th and the breadth 

20—2 



308 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

of the gulf stretching between it and 
happmess. 

What were congratulations, compliments, 
prophecies of future successes to me after 
that ? What was it to me even that 
Madame Serlini herself said, speaking over 
my shoulder to Herr Droigel — 

" She is a good gM ; if she takes pams 
she may do great things yet." 

" You have not found it all pleasure, as 
you expected," said Mr. Florence, softly. 
" I feared there might be a disappoint- 
ment. " 

" Not satisfied yet, little maiden ?" asked 
Herr Droigel. " Why, what wouldst thou 
have — what canst thou want ?" 

" Take me home," I whispered, both my 
hands clasped round his arm ; " ta.ke me 
home — please, do." 

We drove back in silence, and when we 
re-entered the house, I would have gone 
to my own apartment at once, had not 
Herr Droigel, saying he wanted to speak 



MV OWN SECRET. ^309 



to me, entered the drawing-room and closed 
the door after him. 

"Annie," he began, "what ails thee, 
my child — what is the trouble ?" 

I sat silent for a minute, stupefied with 
the misery that had been so suddenly re- 
vealed to me. I knew what I wanted to 
say as well as I knew what I intended 
to do, but my lips refused to utter the 
words that rose to them. 

" What is the trouble ?" he repeated, in 
a tone which, though gentle, left me no 
choice but to answer. 

" I shall never try to act agam." 

" And wherefore not ?" 

"Idishkeit." 

" You dislike it. Why ?" 

" I do not know — I cannot tell." 

" Think again, dear child ; think once — 
twice — tluice " 

" I cannot tell," I said, defiantly. 

" ShaU I tell ?" he asked. " Sit down," 
he continued, as I rose and tried to free 



310 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

myself from the grasp of his great, soft, 
hand, which held me as if in a vice ; " you 
are not a child, I am not quite bHnd— 
you are in love. Bah ! with a man who 
cares not for you — who will never care for 
you." 

" Oh ! no, no," I murmured. 

" Oh ! yes, yes ; poor httle one, whom 
from my heart I pity. But this folly we 
must try to hide — the world would not 
pity, it would laugh, or cry fie, fie ! Say, 
Annie ; if it be hard to thee for me to 
probe thy secrets, how could it be borne 
for strangers to turn thy sacred fancies 
into ridicule ?" 

" I have no fancies," I exclaimed. " You 
are wrong, Herr Droigel, utterly and en- 
tirely. I have never thought, I have never 
known " 

"There comes a moment of revelation," 
he said, as I paused, confusion covering 
me ; "it may be thou hast not hitherto 
thought — thou hast not heretofore known, 



MV OWN SECRET. 311 

but the mask is off now ; thou hast looked 
into thine heart and seen. But there must 
be no more of looking and seeing," he 
went on, speaking determinedly ; " with 
me your secret is safe^ — buried — dead; 
none other must know it — not one. We 
must have no more faltering, no more weak- 
ness, no more babble of abandoning a career 
which may be splendid " 

" I shall abandon it," I interrupted ; " I 
shall never sing agam in opera — never." 

" Ah ! my dear, you will think twice 
about that ; you will think more than 
twice before you give the world's big- 
tongue liberty to wag about this thing 
so foolish ; you will cry all through the 
night, possibly ; you will spend your grief, 
and then you will to-morrow come to me, 
having seen the folly of takimg a dead 
love to nurse, and say, ' Help me to hide 
this sorrow. Tell me how I shall dig a 
hole so deep, and press the earth over it 
so that no one may dream it has ever been. 



312 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

liemind me that I owe much money, that 
I must earn gold to hve. Tell me I am 
no gi'eat heiress who can afford to flmg 
away bank notes for the sake of an illusion. 
Kepeat it is shame to be won unsought — 
unmaidenly to give love when it has not 
been asked, where it is not desired.' " 

" Do you think you have said enough," 
Herr Droigel ?" I asked, rising and steady- 
ing myself for a moment ere I essayed tO' 
walk. 

" I hope so," he replied. " I never want 
to have to say anythmg about it again." 

He had said more than enough for me. 
Somehow I made my way upstairs into- 
my room, turning the key inside. 

After that there is a blank. The next 
thing I remember is lymg on the floor- 
with the moon shming into my chamber. 



CHAPTER XII. 




THE HEIR COMES TO HIS OWN. 

HAT Herr Droigel said was true : 
I had no such store of wealth I 
could afford to follow my inclma- 
tions ; whether the work were to my taste 
or not, I must do it. Whether I had 
learned to hate pubhcity or delight in 
living before a multitude, signified nothing. 
I had but one profession, and it was ne- 
cessary for me to pursue it ; but one gift, 
and I had perforce to use it. 

Though I did not weep through the 
night, though I did not spend my grief, 
morning, as the Professor had prophesied 
would be the case, brought sense mth it, 
and I resumed my labours as if nothing 



314 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

unusual had occurred to change the whole 
current of my ideas. 

But the current was changed neverthe- 
less. I worked harder than ever, but I 
only worked that my labour might sooner 
have an end. I tried my best to please 
the public, but it was only that I might 
be able all the earlier to bid the public 
^n eternal farewell. Vain would it be to 
deny that applause still gave me pleasure, 
that silence filled me with dismay. To the 
last hour of my life the clapping of many 
hands, the huzzahs and encores of many 
voices, will stir my heart as the sound of 
a trumpet stirs the blood of a war-horse 
which has once listened to its call ; but 
the moment I was off the stage, the mo- 
ment I retired from the platform, the old 
sick feehng returned, and I felt in my soul 
it was all vanity. 

That I was deceiving Herr Droigel's intel- 
ligence, and deluding all others with whom 
I came in contact, I firmly believed ; never 



THE HEIR COMES TO HIS OWN. 315 

thinking the Professor was reading me like 
an easy book, and that some who were in- 
terested in my future noted every change 
of humour, every caprice of temper, as care- 
fully as my master himself. 

I had no friend. Gretchen was occupied 
with her own affairs, and had it been 
otherwise I should scarcely have taken her 
into my confidence. Miss Cleeves came to 
see me but seldom, and when she did, made 
herself increasingly disagreeable. From the 
time I told Madame Serlini of Mr. 
Florence's offer, her manner froze towards 
me. I had no friend, so far as I knew, and 
perhaps it was as well, since a friend of 
whom I knew nothing was watching over 
my safety. 

So days and weeks passed by, mono- 
tonously it seemed to me, for there is a 
wonderful monotony in work of any kind ; 
and the time when I was anxious concern- 
ing my success — when I was doubtful 
whether I should be able to sing m opera 



316 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

SO as to please a critical audience — had 
faded into the mists of an apparently remote 
distance. Lookincr back, I cannot think 
the reputation I then achieved was built on 
a solid foundation. Years alone can prove 
whether the success of a sine-er is the result 

a 

of adventitious circumstances or real merit, 
and my success must be attributed to many 
causes altogether foreign to either voice or 
merit. 

I was young, and the public are lenient 
as well as partial to youth. I sang with 
Madame Serlini, who was in herself a tower 
of strength ; who, when she chose to help, 
could almost insure those associated with 
her performing well and singing their 
best. 

The principal male singers took a kindly 
interest in me, whilst Mr. Florence exerted 
an influence which was not slight in obtain- 
ing generally favourable comments on my 
powers from the press. 

Whatever talent I might have had, 
every chance therefore of recognition and 



THE HEIR COMES TO HIS OWN. 017 

development. My career was short and 
sunny ; my way lay across green fields, 
along shady lanes, over paths bordered by 
flowers, under arches crowned with roses. 
The frosts of winter, the decay of autumn, 
the rain, and the sleet, and the snow, were 
outside my experience ; and it is only those 
who have outlived the keen winds of criti- 
cism, the adverse judgment of the select 
few, the indifference of the many — the diffi- 
culties which beset, the obstacles which 
retard all who are trying to win name 
and fame — that can tell of what metal they 
are really made. Had I continued in my 
profession I should have known more of my 
own capabihties or the want of them than I 
am ever hkely to be acquainted with now. 
But an end was coming to that career on 
which I had so longed to enter. It came 
when nothing was further from my thoughts, 
and in this wise. 

We were ready one night to leave Her 
Majesty's, but Herr Droigel had not come 
to fetch me as agreed. 



318 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Madame Serlini, who could not brook 
being kept waiting for an instant, but who 
did not like leaving me alone, was fuming 
over his delay, when Mr. Florence, who 
had volunteered to find the Professor, 
returned. 

" Herr Droigel is not here," he said, ad- 
dressing me, " but he has sent a fly, and 
the driver says his orders were to come 
for you first, and then to call for Miss 
Droigel on his way back." 

"He has made a mistake," I rephed ; 
" he was to call for Gretchen and her father 
on his way here, but it does not matter. 
Good night, Madame ; good night, Signor ; 
good night." 

It was to be good-bye to that life, but I 
did not know that. 

Mr. Florence and I walked up the 
Arcade together. The night was dark, the 
rain falling in torrents. Madame Serlini's 
brougham stopped the way. I knew her 
pair of bays, recognised her coachman, who 



THE HEIR COMES TO HIS OWN. 319 

sat with the rain splashing from his coat, 
and the footman, who stood just within the 
Arcade, and who touched his hat to us as 
we passed. 

My companion put up an umbrella, and 
drew my arm a little closer in his. 

" I am afraid you will get wet," he re- 
marked ; " your carriage is the last of all." 

Almost running, we hurried along the 
soaking pavement. Mr. Florence turned 
the handle of the door ; I had my foot on 
the step to enter, when some one caught my 
disengaged hand, and, puUmg me back, 
said, " That is not your carriage. Miss 
Trenet. Come with me." 

"Interfere with tliis lady at your peril," 
exclaimed Mr. Florence. 

" Interfere with her at yours," was the 
reply ; and before I could recover from my 
astonishment, Mr. Florence was lying prone 
on the pavement, and a crowd beginning to 
collect. 

" In Heaven's name, what is the matter ? 



320 HOME, SWEET HOME. 



what has happened ?" asked Madame 
Serlmi, turning to my companion for an 
explanation. 

" Take her home with you," he answered. 
" I will be with you early to-morrow." 

" With me ?" repeated Madame, in amaze- 
ment ; " did you say home with meV 

"Yes; she will be safe with you," was 
the reply. " I must see Droigel at once. 
Good night." 

"It is like a bad dream," exclaimed 
Madame, and taking my hand in hers, she 
held it fast all the way to her o^\ai house. 

" Annie," she said to me next morning, 
" when Mr. Birwood wrote to you it is a 
pity you did not at least answer his letter." 

" He never wrote to me. I never had a 
letter from him in my life," I replied. 

Mr. Sylvester was standing beside 
Madame Serlini, and I turned to him to 
confirm my statement, but he gravely shook 
his head. 

"I wrote to you," he began — "wrote a 



THE HEIR COMES TO HIS OWN. 321 

letter which I feared you thought dicta- 
torial and impertinent, because you did not 
know — how coidd you % — what your going-, 
on the stage meant to me." 

By this time Madame Serlini had left 
the room, 

" I never received such a letter," I said ; 
" what was it about T 

He told me it was to implore me not to 
appear in public again, but to marry him if 
I was not afraid of comparative poverty. 

" If you received that letter now, what 
answer would you give me T he enquired. 

I know what I ought to have done, 
know I ought to have refused him deci- 
sively, but I only said — 

" Oh, Mr. Sylvester, how you ask me to 
rum your prospects — to spoil your Hfe." 

I will not repeat his answer. It is 
enough for me to tell it was no longer any 
shame for me to love him — that I had 
found friend, hero, brother, husband, all in 
one. 

VOL. III. 21 



322 HOME, SWEET HOME, 

Would there were space to tell what 
Droigel said to me and I to Droigel when, 
later in the same day, he called to see his 
"impulsive Annie." 

That our interview was not pleasant may 
be gathered from the fact that when he was 
leavino' I refused to shake hands with him. 

o 

"I forgot the years, "he said, plaintively. 
"" I was a woman all over. When he told 
me it was best for me to have few friends 
and doubt every one, I pouted ; when he 
let me have my own way and make friends 
and beheve in all, I blamed him because 
harm nearly came of it. Well, he could wait. 
After all, I was only following my nature, 
only displaying another trait common to 
my adorable sex." And after administering 
this consolation to himself, he departed. 

We were not married in London, but at 
Little Alford. Dr. Packman gave me away ; 
Miss Packman was my bridesmaid ; and we 
spent a quiet honeymoon, as befitted those 



THE HEIR COMES TO HIS OIVX. 3'25 

who were not, for some time at least, likely 
to be overburdened with this world's goods. 

I had not a sixpence. The house at 
Little Alford was mortgaged, my small 
fortune spent, my earnings in Herr Droigel's 
pocket. The agreement I signed at the 
time of Uncle Isaac's embarrassment bound 
me to the Professor for years. How difficult 
it proved to obtain my release from it I did 
not know until long afterwards ; but I was 
released, and as I never have sung, so I 
never shall sing m public again. 

In entering upon my new life only two 
things troubled me — one, that his marriage 
had placed an insuperable barrier between 
my husband and the Wifforde estates ; 
another, that Miss Cleeves resented her 
cousin's choice even more bitterly than did 
her aunts. 

" You have ruined his prospects and 
cursed my hfe" was the pleasant sentence 
in which she summed up the extent of my 
delinquencies. " It was an evil morning 

21—2 



324 HOME, SWEET HOME. 



that on which I ever saw you. If I had 
known what I was doing, I would rather 
have bitten my tongue out than taken any 
notice of you — given you ideas above your 
rank, induced you ever to think a man hke 
Sylvester would condescend to look at a girl 
in yoiu^ station." 

" But, Miss Cleeves," I remonstrated, 
" what can it matter to you T 

" What can it matter to me T she re- 
peated. " I loved him as you could never 
love anybody ; ay, and I should have made 
him love me back again had it not been for 
your demure face and simple ways. There ; 
don't cling and cry to me, you baby ; you 
have broken my heart ;" and having so 
spoken, she left me. 

" Was it really tnie she ever cared for 
you T I asked my husband. " I always 
thought ; that is, she always implied " 

" I know," he answered, " it pleased her 
that the world should think I was a re- 
jected suitor, and yet it is as true that I 



THE HEIR COMES TO HIS OWN. 325 

once gave up all hope of being heir to the 
Miss Wiffordes because I would not marry 
her, as it is that I have now given up all 
desire of being theii' heir because I would 
marry you," 

" And you do not repent ?" 

" I shall never repent," he said, earnestly. 

There came, however, a day when the ohve 
branch was sent to him — when "our ladies," 
saying they should like to see him once more, 
requested his presence at the Great House,' 
hut he declined to go without his wife. 
Had I known I should have begged him 
not to let me prove a bone of contention — 
but I did not know till another letter 
arrived asking us both to visit Lovedale. 

I did not enjoy staying with my husband's 
relations. It seemed to me, courteous as 
they were, that their whole time was oc- 
cupied in watching my actions, noting my 
words, criticising my manners ; and, be- 
sides, there was one ever-present thought 
oppressing my soul — namely, that through 



S26 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

me Sylvester had lost all chance of succeed- 
ing to those broad lands, to all the wealth 
and consideration that but for me might 
one day have been his. Nor were my 
spirits rendered any better by the news 
which reached the Great House not long- 
after our arrival, that Miss Cleeves had 
made a most wretched marriage. For forty- 
eight hours Miss Wifforde kept her room, 
resolutely refusing to be comforted ; and 
when she reappeared she looked years 
older and was fain to avail herself of my 
husband's arm as she walked with him 
along the terrace and up the walks that 
wound in and out amongst the dark pine 
trees. 

Our visit had by this time extended far 
beyond the period originally fixed for our 
return, and though it proved very dull, 
miserable, and uncomfortable to me, I had 
not as yet ventured to hint that I was 
wearying to be back in our own modest 
house, which seemed to me so much more 



THE HEIR COMES TO HIS OWA. B27 

liome-like than the WifFordes' great ram- 
bling mansion. 

At length, however, I broke silence. 

" I hope you will not think me selfish 
for asking such a question " — that was the 
way in which I introduced the subject — 
"but when are we to leave here — when shall 
we go home again ?" 

" Do you want to get home again ?" he 
inquired. 

" Very, very much," was my reply. 

"Then we ^vill ask Miss WifForde," he 
said, smiling.. "Aunt Laura," he began, 
leading me to the room where, arrayed in 
stiff silks, " our ladies " sat domg Berlin 
woolwork, " my wife wants to know when 
we are to go home T 

" My dear," said Miss Wifforde, in reply, 
and the hand which held her needle shook 
a little, though her voice never trembled, 
" we hope you will stay here always — it is 
fit the heir should reside on the property 
which will one day be his." 



328 • HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Do you mean — oh. ! what do you 
mean?" I asked, looking from one to the 
other. 

" We mean," answered Miss Dorothea, 
kindly, " that we are about to place a great 
trust in you : the maintenance of the honour, 
the keeping of the dignity of an old name." 

For a minute I could not speak. Then I 
replied, " I will try to prove myself worthy 
of that trust." 

" We are not afraid of the result," said 
Miss Wifforde, and rising from her chair 
she kissed me solemnly ; after which Miss 
Dorothea did the same. 

It was like a religious ceremony — I am 
sure it produced the efPect of one upon my 
mind. 



"^^SS 




CHAPTER XIII. 

CONCLUSION. 

T is a summer's evening: sunshine is 
flooding the landscape, bathing 
woods and plantations, lawns, fields, 
flowers, in a glory of golden light. From 
the window near which I am seated, the 
Love, murmirruig among its stones, a calm 
peaceful rivulet on its way to the great sea, 
is distinctly visible. Shading my eyes I 
can discern the stone on which Miss Cleeves 
and I held our first coUoquy, when our lives 
had still to be lived, when the future seemed 
aU mysterious, when the past was as yet 
but one day taken out of the spring-time ; 
and summer, autumn, winter were aU to 
come. 

Ah ! how long ago since I and the brown 



330 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

thrush tried conclusions, since I conquered 
him ignominiously, and sang my song till 
his was silenced. 

How many thrushes have sang on that 
bough since then ! How many other Annies 
have during the interval made their curtseys 
to a British public ! Questions like these 
make one feel old. The fresh actors are 
coming on ; ever and ever we hear the 
faint echoes of departmg footsteps — the 
sounds growing louder and louder of those 
which are approaching. 

Aspirants for the laurel wreath are 
constantly pressing forward ; those who 
have won, those who have lost on earher 
fields, they have passed, they are passing 
away. 

They come, they go. Between me and 
the setting sun I behold the dim figures of 
a shado^vy throng : men and women I have 
known ; men and women I may never 
know ; men and women who existed before 
I ever came into being — they are there — a 



CONCLUSION. 331 



miglity company — who have fretted or are 
fr'etting or will fret thefr way somehow 
across the marvellous stag-e of hfe. 

It is enough — I turn away my eyes and 
take up my pen once more. Some day 
another tale will be written about me, but 
not in three volumes. A legend will be 
cai'ved about me, for copies of which the 
most inveterate novel readers will not 
clamour, and refuse to be appeased. 

Amongst other things that is coming. I 
am reminded of the fact by looking at an 
aged woman, who sits where she can 
sometimes lay her left hand on mine ; 
though she has Hved far, far beyond the 
period allotted to man, she still retains her 
faculties. She is feeble, she is paralysed, but 
she lives — she enjoys : she enjoys the sun- 
shine in the summer, the blazing wood fire 
in. the winter. In all respects she is changed. 
She likes me to smg to her what she calls 
" good songs," and she loves still more ta 
hear scraps of manuscript read over. She^ 



332 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

likes the sound of the children's laughter, 
and she and Hunter, who bears her com- 
pany when I cannot do so, are content that 
I am Sylvester's wife, that our children 
should be Wiifordes of Lovedale. 

" If I go first," Miss Dorothea says, 
speaking as well as her infirmity will permit, 
" you promise, Annie, that Hunter shall 
stay here till she dies too ?" 

"Yes, aunt, I promise — for Sylvester 
and myself, and oui* sons and our daughters." 

There is no lack of an heir now at the 
Great House, and a different place it is, I 
ween, to the gaunt, solemn, almost un- 
inhabited mansion upon which my childish 
gaze used to fasten itself ui curiosity and 
in awe. 

Miss Wifforde lived to see some of these 
changes — lived to see a girl born, whom we 
named after her. She was christened 
Laura Cleeves Wifforde, and Miss Wif- 
forde 's last words to me were — 

*' If 5/if," well I knew whom she meant 



CONCLUSION. 333 



by " she," " ever comes back, you will be 
true to her, dear." 

" True for ever," I answered. Would 
she would give me the chance ? I hope, I 
pray, I believe, that woman who fancied I 
wronged her may yet give me an opportunity 
of showing how deep and lasting is my love. 
There must come an hour when her heart 
willturn back with tenderness and yearning 
to those who are so faithfully her friends, 
and I never see a stranger coming up the 
avenue without a feeling of expectancy. 
I never in the twilight look towards the 
long French windows opening on the 
terrace without a fancy stirring vdthin me 
that the wanderer will yet stand at one of 
them and beckon me to her with the im- 
perious movement familiar of old. 

The Cottage has no tenant. It was a 
fancy of mine to keep it vacant and put in 
as caretaker an old servant who lived with 
us there when I was a tiny child. So far as 
was possible the rooms are famished and 



53-t HOME, SWEET HOME. 

•ornamented as they were in the days when 
the Great House viewed from below ap- 
peared an awful and inscrutable mystery — 
a continent between which and me stretched 
the waters of an unknown ocean. 

Nowfrom the windows of the Great House 
I look down on the himible abode from 
which I have risen to such mighty honour, 
and no amusement I can offer to the children 
ever affords them such keen enjoyment as 
the proposal to have a picnic at the Cottage. 
They delight in the small rooms, the old- 
fashioned furniture, the lavender, the gilly 
flowers, the beds of thyme, the humming 
bees, just as I dehghted in the same things 
before they were thought of 

They never weary of hearing how 
" mamma lived here when she was a little 
girl," and how papa, when he was young, 
used to ride past on a great black horse, 
and how mamma from one particular window 
watched him. The water from the well 
has a special sweetness to their fancy— it is 



CONCLUSION. 33.:: 



■colder than the water at the Great House, 
and clearer also, they conceive; and an acme 
of happuiess is attained when after having 
filled the kettle for themselves they bring 
it into the kitchen and watch it hung to 
boil over a crackling wood fire. 

My life has, in comparison to the lives of 
others, been almost uneventfal.. Now that 
the poor story is told it seems to me, think- 
ing of the few real incidents recorded, 
scarcely worth the telling ; but I have been 
very, very happy — I am happier than words 
can express ; and that in a world where 
happiness seems the exception, sorrow the 
riile, is something to chronicle. 

One of our children is called Annie. She 
has but tliis moment returned from the 
Cottage, and her httle hands are full of 
flowers gathered in its old-fashioned garden. 

Close to my side she comes, the little face 
eager with the energy of a new pui^pose ; 
the dark eyes darker with the excitement 
of a new idea of a fully developed plan. 



336 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" When I am married " she begms, 

Mark ! there is no doubt in her mind about 
the matter. It is not, " If I ever marry," 
'"' If I ever am asked to marry," but straight- 
forwardly, without doubt or a shadow of 
turning. " When I am married, I shall live 
at the Cottage ; that shaU be my home." 

I take her in my arms. The flowers fall 
from her hands, and cover me with leaf and 
blossom. 

The scents of the old days are around me, 
I hear the birds singing, and the bees hum- 
ming, and the melody of an old, old song- 
is in my ears and the Great House and the 
Cottao-e are both the same to me at last, 

o 

To my thinking there is no tenderer con- 
junction of words possible than that con- 
tained in the sentence " Home, Sweet 
Home. ' 

THE END. 



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